The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers have been here before. Last year, the Heat toppled the Indiana by 10 points in Game One of the Eastern Conference semifinals, only to lose Game 2 by three points, and Game 3 by a whooping 19.
Flash forward to Sunday’s Game Three at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the series tied 1-1, and the Heat aren’t in complete danger of losing control of the conference finals, but the last thing they need is for Indiana to gain even more confidence.
In 2012, Miami went on to win the next three games by an average margin of 16 points, and also faced a one-game deficit against Boston in the next round, only to have LeBron James reach his current level of dominance and take over the basketball world en route to the title.
The younger Pacers held steady throughout their Game Three 97-93 victory, behind Roy Hibbert’s huge 29 points and 10 rebounds, the efficient 6-for-8 shooting from guard George Hill for 18 points, and another solid performance from Paul George, who totaled 22 points and six assists.
Lance Stephenson nearly played Indiana out of the series tying game, forcing several shots, and a poor turnover late that Miami luckily couldn’t turn into a basket. He would end the game with 10 points.
Stephenson also took a shot from Miami’s Dwyane Wade, who appeared to hit Stephenson in the head with an elbow in the fourth quarter. The NBA has reportedly stated they are look into the incident that was missed by referees.
Wade would struggle from the floor in Game 3, going 6-for-14 for 14 points. His shots looked flat at times, and the All-Star may be feeling the effects once again of his injured knee.
James had another outstanding game with 36 points, eight rebounds, and three steals, but much of it was negated by his five turnovers, including several turnovers forced by Indiana power forward David West.
Miami forward Chris Bosh shot the same percentage and number of times as Wade for 17 points and five rebounds.
Indiana also won the rebounding battle, 39-32, and other than their defensive mishap at the end of Game One that resulted in a buzzer beater layup from James, should be up 2-0 in the series.
The game starts at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time and will be broadcast by TNT, or watch their free live online stream at TNT Overtime here.
Betting Odds: Miami is favored by 2 points
Over/Under: 182 points
Predicted Score: Miami 95, Indiana 89