MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat don’t have much to prove to themselves, but questions are popping up around the team when it comes to Miami’s ability to knock out the Indiana Pacers.
Miami’s job won’t be made any easier if MVP LeBron James can’t go Wednesday night. James sprained his ankle on Monday and missed Wednesday morning’s shootaround. He’s likely a game-time decision for Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
In addition, Miami will be without the services of swingman Michael Beasley who has been nursing a hamstring injury.
Indiana may be without a key figure as well as head coach Frank Vogel is reportedly ill and listed as questionable to be on the sideline at the AmericanAirlines Arena Wednesday night.
The last time the Heat played the Pacers; Miami dominated Indiana in the first quarter and stayed tight with the Pacers at halftime. Then the Pacers remembered they had a 7’2” beast named Roy Hibbert in the paint that the Heat can’t match up with and Indiana pulled away in the second half.
Miami has no defensive answer for Hibbert at this point in the season. However, the Heat are largely coasting at this point in the season with the team trying to stay healthy and near the top of the standings before making a push in the second-half of the season like they’ve done the last two years.
The Pacers (20-4) have run out to the best record in the conference, with the Heat (18-6) directly on their heels. No other team in the East is more than a game above .500. Indiana may have been peeking ahead to the rematch in Miami in its latest game, falling 101-96 to Detroit on Monday for its first home loss of the season.
This year, the Heat has six players averaging at least 9 points per game including: James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Beasley, Ray Allen, and Mario Chalmers. In addition, all but two of those players are shooting at least 50 percent from the field at this point in the season.
However, if the Heat loses both James and Beasley from the lineup; the team loses roughly 36.7 points per game.
Miami still hopes Greg Oden can get his knees straightened out for the stretch run after the calendar turns over. Oden is 7’ tall and can guard Hibbert and give the Heat a legitimate presence in the paint. Oden made one appearance in the preseason, but hasn’t been active in a game this year.
If Oden can give the Heat enough of a presence to keep Hibbert and other centers in check, the only thing that can stop the Heat is an injury.
Indiana and Miami tip off at 7 p.m. at the AmericanAirlines Arena Wednesday.