Heat Hope To Outpace Pacers
Heat In Must-Win Situation In Game 2CHICAGO (CBSMiami.com) – Forty-eight hours after getting beaten like the end of a ketchup bottle, the Miami Heat are in a must-win situation in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls. The Heat’s Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh ended up being the Big 1 and Wade and LeBron. Chris Bosh played well shooting 67 percent from the field, 100 percent from the free throw line and finishing with 30 points and 9 rebounds. But the bigger story for Heat fans was the abysmal play of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Game 1. Wade and James shot a combined 12 for 29 for the field and scored 33 points. As anyone who watched the game can attest, that’s simply not going to cut it. It does reveal the Bulls’ game plan for dealing with the Big Three. The Bulls are more than happy to let Bosh score 30-40 a game as long as LeBron and Wade don’t get in a rhythm. But, the Bulls are not an unbeatable team by any stretch of the imagination. The Bulls got a combined 35 points from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. Plus, the Bulls dominated on the offensive boards by grabbing 19 to the Heat’s 6. Essentially, the Bulls played the best they possibly could in Game 1 and the Heat played as poorly as they possibly could. The Bulls’ defense was great in Game 1, but now comes the hard part for the Bulls. The Heat is humiliated, angry, and now sees the Bulls’ game plan. The team will have spent three days practicing and watching film to find new ways to attack. But the Heat needs to have a better plan with their rotation of players. While it’s a given that Joel Anthony, James Jones, and Mario Chalmers will get solid minutes; the Heat need to decide if they want to throw another big man at the Bulls. The Heat can’t count on Udonis Haslem giving them any more than 5-10 minutes a game and he’s still not in good enough shape to really make a big difference. So, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to decide if starting Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Jamaal Magloire will help out by bringing Joel Anthony off the bench as a sparkplug to the team. But the biggest hurdle for the Heat is quite simple. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have to play better. It’s not just about scoring either. Both players have to play better on the defensive end and in transition for the Heat to have any chance of winning. The Heat also absolutely have to crash the boards, even if it does slow down the team’s transition game and cut down on fast break points. If the Heat can cut down on the Bulls’ second-chance points, the game will be completely different in Game 2. In addition, the Heat has to rotate to the ball faster on the defensive end of the floor. It will probably mean less double-teams can be utilized, but the team has to keep a hand in Deng and Boozer’s face throughout the game or run the risk of both of them killing the Heat again. Still, LeBron and D-Wade are not going to play that poorly in back-to-back games. If both players show up ready to play in Game 2, then it should be a strikingly different game in Game 2. And, if the Heat can walk out of Chicago with a victory in Game 2 and bring the series back to Miami tied at one game apiece; then the Heat are in the driver’s seat. On the flip side, if the Bulls take a 2-0 lead in the series after Game 2, then the Heat is in deep trouble and will face very long odds of making it past the Eastern Conference Finals.
MIAMI (AP) – There’s only one opponent the Miami Heat haven’t beaten this season, and it’s also the last one to defeat them – well over a month ago.
As impressive as it may be for the Heat to extend their winning streak to 18 by toppling that team, the Indiana Pacers completing a regular-season sweep of this series Sunday night in South Beach would be quite a major statement as well.
LeBron James, though, doesn’t think his team could make one.
“We don’t need to make no statement, against no team,” said James, who added that Indiana is “not a rival at this point.”
His opinion may start to change if the Heat (46-14) lose Sunday or if they see Indiana (39-23) again in the playoffs. This is the Pacers’ first trip to Miami since a 113-85 defeat – easily the most lopsided of the teams’ past 10 meetings – in Game 5 of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Indiana was ousted in the next game after leading the series 2-1 but has come back this season to win both meetings by double digits, though both were in Indianapolis.
“They are playing so well. And we being the last team that beat them, we know everybody’s going to be up for that game,” Pacers All-Star Paul George said. “It should be a fun game to watch. We know they are going to be ready because we are up 2-0 on them.”
The only other team to knock off the Heat more than once is New York, but Miami beat the Knicks last Sunday as part of a franchise-record win streak that dates to a 102-89 loss at Indiana on Feb. 1.
The Heat now look to tie the sixth-longest streak in league history. They have matched the Clippers’ 17-game run from earlier this season, but no team has had a better one since Boston’s streak of 19 in 2008.
“Every team that has beaten us, especially since the break, we’ve tried to redeem ourselves and play a lot better,” said Dwyane Wade, averaging 27.0 points and 61.3 percent shooting in the last eight games.
Wade has averaged 29.2 points in the last five matchups with Indiana – including the three wins to close the playoff series last year – and James is at 29.6 in that span. However, their teammates have not stepped up offensively in this season’s two meetings while Indiana dominated inside, especially in an 87-77 win Jan. 8.
“Now it’s our turn, being at home, to come out and take care of business,” Wade said.
Indiana has an 89-61 rebounding edge in the season series while limiting Miami to 41.0 percent from the field. The Heat lead the league at 49.5 percent and are 32-2 this season when hitting at least 48.0.
The Pacers are holding teams to an NBA-low 41.1 percent, and none of their last 11 opponents have reached 100 points. Two of the seven times Miami didn’t hit that total this season were against Indiana.
“We got to lock in on defense and really try to play big,” George said.
No Pacer plays bigger than 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert, who says the Pacers “relish this type of atmosphere.” Hibbert, who has 21 blocks in his last five games, has keyed Indiana controlling the season series as he’s helped limit Chris Bosh to 13.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Hibbert has 20 boards in the two matchups while David West grabbed 18 and George 17. George had 29 points in the first meeting, and West scored 30 in the second.
“They play inside-out with Hibbert and David West. And even Paul George … his attack mentality helps them,” James said. “If they could they would like to keep our game in the 80s, which they’ve been able to. So we gotta try to push the tempo a little bit.”
Ray Allen went scoreless in both meetings, something that’s happened in only one other game during his 17 seasons. Shane Battier has averaged 5.5 points and shot 4 of 12, and Mario Chalmers has scored 5.0 per game on 3-of-11 shooting.
Indiana’s only two losses in its last nine games were to the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 28 and to the Celtics – maybe the league’s hottest team other than Miami – on a last-second basket Wednesday. However, both defeats were at home.
The Pacers are 4-0 on the road since the start of February, winning by an average of 19.5 points.
“I’m excited about going down there,” Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough said. “It’ll be a fun game. They’re rolling.”
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)