Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat disposed of the New York Knicks easily in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. But the Heat’s opponent in the second round looms larger, literally.
The Indiana Pacers will square off against the Heat in the second round and that means Miami’s focus will be on the much bigger and more athletic frontline of the Pacers.
Indiana’s biggest acquisition in the offseason last year was power forward David West. The veteran has spurred the Pacers’ push into the second round. In the playoffs, West is averaging 15.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. At 6’9”, the Heat has players that can deal with West.
The bigger challenge lies at the center position with Roy Hibbert. The towering center stands 7’2” and is both a strength and weakness for the Pacers. Hibbert averaged 13 points and 8.8 rebounds per game during the regular season and 11 points and 11 rebounds per game thus far in the playoffs.
He becomes a liability if the Heat can pick up the tempo and get Hibbert running up and down the court.
Miami scored about 1.6 points more per game against the Heat versus the rest of the league. The Heat also clamped down defensively against the Indiana holding the Pacers to roughly 7 points less per game when the two matched up.
Miami’s defense also cleaned up on the glass against the Pacers, while keeping the Pacers’ big men off the boards. Miami averaged 41.9 rebounds per game against Indiana, which was at their season average. Indiana averaged 38.3 rebounds per game against the Heat, which was roughly 5 rebounds less per game.
Both the Pacers and Heat got to the free throw line more often when they played each other than against the rest of the association.
Looking at the shooting, Miami and Indiana both struggled shooting from inside the arc until they got into the paint where both teams shot better, especially around the bucket. Indiana struggled from behind the arc against the Heat, except from the corners where they were slightly better against Miami.
Past Indiana’s front line, the Heat will worry primarily about Danny Granger. The Pacers forward lit up the Orlando Magic for 21 points per game and grabbed 7 rebounds to boot. In the regular season, Granger averaged 18.7 points and 5 rebounds per game.
The Heat are favored in the series over the Pacers, but this series will be much tougher than the first-round series against the New York Knicks.
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Heat and the Pacers will tip-off Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the AmericanAirlines Arena.