|October 30, 2009 - 8:00PM EST|
|Radio: 1070AM WFNI TV: Fox Sports Indiana|
|Mario Chalmers||PG||T.J. Ford|
|Dwyane Wade||SG||Brandon Rush|
|Quentin Richardson||SF||Danny Granger|
|Michael Beasley||PF||Troy Murphy|
|Jermaine O'Neal||C||Roy Hibbert|
The Indiana Pacersopen their home schedule at Conseco Fieldhouse against the Miami Heat. With the pre-game Third Eye Blind concert and other festivities on tap, the opening tip will be at 8:00PM. The Heat are coming off a strong home opener of their own, cruising past the New York Knicks, 115-93. For the Miami perspective, check out: Peninsula is Mightier and their game preview.
Please leave your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments and if you are at the Fieldhouse, don't forget the mobile commenting features work real well. Love to hear from others in the gym.
As for the actual game, the Heat haven't had much luck in the Fieldhouse recently, but they present plenty of problems for the Pacers.
The Miami Heat will once again test the Pacers defensive FG% goals as they present a bevy of shooters who have all torched the Pacers at one time or the other in previous seasons. Obviously, Dwyane Wade is a given, able to go off at any time and take the game by the throat. But then you have the assortment of shooters the Heat can fall back on should they need more than Wade. Daequan Cook, Quentin Richardson and James Jones don't strike fear on their own but all it takes is one of the three to catch fire and the Heat can ride that advantage to a win. Although, it appears James Jones is staying in Miami due to the flu, so that eliminates one long-range weapon for the Heat.
Last year I argued that shooters of the Cook, Richardson, Jones ilk would have better games against the Pacers because the were comfortable. They knew going into the game they'd get plenty of shots without a lot of hassle and were ready to take advantage. This year the Pacers are trying to emphasize perimeter pressure and getting into just these types of players is critical to improving the defensive results and bringing down the opponent's FG percentage.
After the turnover debacle in Atlanta, the Pacers obviously have to be more cognizant of the, well, ball. You have to figure, Miami will be challenging every outlet pass possible and in Wade and Mario Chalmers they have a pair of guards capable of gathering steals. SI's preview had a stat that Wade and Chalmers combined for 33 games last year with where one of them had at least four steals. That's the best combo since the lethal defensive duo of Gary Payton and Nate McMillan combined for 34 games in 1994.
Then there's Jermaine O'Neal, coming off a 22 and 12 opener and feeling real good about his health and game. J.O. could be the X factor in this game by not only producing but luring Roy Hibbert into foul trouble. Regardless of the outcome, J.O.'s presence offers some added intrigue to the home opener.