2013 NBA Playoffs
The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers will meet in the playoffs for the second straight year. This season, Indiana looks for revenge in the Eastern Conference Finals. The No.1 seed Heat will have a week off in between games, while the No.3 Pacers enter Game One after three days rest.
No team has been as dominant as Miami in the postseason. They lost just one game in the first two rounds, sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks and beating the Chicago Bulls in five. The club’s eight wins have come by an average of 16.5 points.
Indiana won their first and second round series in six, beating the Atlanta Hawks and upsetting the New York Knicks. They have yet to lose at home.
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In the regular season, the Pacers were one of the few teams that had a measure of success against the Heat. The Central Division champs won two of the three meetings between the teams, with both victories coming by double-digits. In the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Indiana took a 2-1 series lead over Miami. The Heat, however, won the next three games and went on to win the NBA Finals.
Heat Key Players
LeBron James: For the past few years, James has proven to be the unquestioned best player in the NBA. If he plays like he did in the regular season, this could be a very short series. Against Chicago, though, he was held to just 43.8 percent shooting from the field.
Dwyane Wade: The two-time champion has been a shell of himself in the playoffs. Bothered by a knee injury, Wade has reached the 20-point mark just once this postseason and averaged 12.6 points per game against the Bulls. The injury won’t keep him off the court, but there’s a good chance it will continue to affect his play. Wade’s ineffectiveness could really hurt Miami, who will need another scorer against the best defensive team in the East.
Pacers Key Players
Paul George: If any player in the league can slow down James, it might be George. The 23-year-old was one of the biggest keys to the Pacers victory against the Knicks, as he stifled Carmelo Anthony for much of the series. He’s also a bigger threat offensively than a player like Jimmy Butler, who was forced to guard James in the second round.
Roy Hibbert: The center was dominant against New York and made Tyson Chandler look like a second-rate big man, even after he was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team. With the Heat having such an advantage on the wings with James and Wade, Hibbert will need to play better than Chris Bosh and be a dominant force inside to give his team a chance.
With James at the helm on offense, Miami can be extremely hard to stop. In the regular season, they led all clubs, scoring 110.3 points for every 100 possessions. When James and Wade break down opposing defenses, they can either finish at the hoop or kick the ball out to three-point shooting threats like Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Norris Cole. Chris Bosh is also a good jump shooter, and can neutralize Hibbert by forcing him away from the basket.
If any Eastern team can slow down Miami, it might be Indiana. The Pacers were first in the conference and second in the NBA, allowing 97.3 points per 100 possessions in 82 regular season games. They are also the best rebounding team in the league, an area that is the Heat’s biggest weakness. Indiana should be able to stay in games by creating multiple opportunities on offense, as well as forcing Miami into tough shots with very good individual defenders like Hibbert, George, and George Hill.
Game 1: at Miami, Wednesday, May 22, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2: at Miami, Friday, May 24, 8:30p.m. ET, TNT
Game 3: at Indiana, Sunday, May 26, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 4: at Indiana, Tuesday, May 28, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 5: at Miami, Thursday, May 30, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT *
Game 6: at Indiana, Saturday, Jun 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT *
Game 7: at Miami, Monday, June 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT *
Miami in six