|2013-14 NBA Regular Season|
|April 11, 2014 - 7:30 p.m. ET|
|AmericanAirlines Arena - Miami, FL|
|TV: NBA TV/FOX Sports Indiana ---- Radio: AM 1070/107.5 FM The Fan|
|George Hill||PG||Mario Chalmers|
|Lance Stephenson||SG||Toney Douglas|
|Paul George||SF||LeBron James|
|David West||PF||Shane Battier|
|Roy Hibbert||C||Chris Bosh|
The Pacers have a great opportunity to seize the No. 1 seed in the East while also gathering a little confidence on the road when they face the defending champs on their home floor.
The Pacers expect to have their full rotation available with the starters returning to action along with C.J. Watson off the bench. Miami will be short-handed without Dwyane Wade who has not been able to play after his hammy gave way in Indy three weeks ago, the karmic result of his whiny efforts to get Lance Stephenson thrown out of the game.
The Heat will also abandon their effort to match the Pacers size with their own size which also failed miserably in Indy. Greg Oden won't be available due to back spasms which is a euphemism for "Hibbert destroyed him last time" so the Heat are going to remain small with Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh trying to make Roy do things he doesn't enjoy.
Shane Battier didn't play in Indy but it appears he will have to log some minutes at power forward which was an area the Pacers and David West can exploit on the interior. The counter of Battier and Bosh making threes early can tip things back in Miami's favor, but unlike the Atlanta game where they attacked from downtown on offense but weren't forced to defend, the Pacers have to make the Heat pay at the defensive end.
But LeBron James will be there, just as he always is for the Heat and his presence remains the key factor in any game at Miami. Will he have an otherworldly night capable of carrying the Heat to a win, or will the Pacers be able to make him have to do more than he is capable of during this current stretch during which he's had to carry such a large load for the champs.
Of course, how the game is officiated and/or if Hibbert and Paul George can remain out of foul trouble will go a long way in determining if the Pacers can nullify a monster effort from LeBron. Lance Stephenson finding the appropriate edge for his game which doesn't cross the line is another factor that can favor the Heat since without DWade, Miami's backcourt won't be as physical.
For more on the Heat, check out Hot, Hot Hoops. Also, leave your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.