INDIANAPOLIS (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat can pull even in the loss column with the Indiana Pacers this year if LeBron and company can go into Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday night and knock off Indiana at home.
But that’s a lot easier said than done.
The Heat and Pacers are on a collision course not just Wednesday night but also in the Eastern Conference playoffs. There will be plenty of storylines to follow in the game Wednesday, but near the top of the list will be the matchup between each team’s big men.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra moved seven-foot center Greg Oden into the starting lineup recently and he is poised to start the game against Indiana’s Roy Hibbert. Indiana’s center has run roughshod over the Heat, who hasn’t had a big man to throw at him in recent years.
But now with Oden in the starting lineup, the Heat has a seven-footer who weighs upwards of 270 pounds that can put a big body into Hibbert. While Oden is still not 100 percent from his repeated knee injuries and surgeries, he is giving the Heat at least enough play to keep Hibbert honest.
The bigger element that Oden will give the Heat is a chance to bring Indiana’s other big man, power forward David West, out from the post area. The Heat’s Chris Bosh moves to the power forward position and can force West all the way out to the three-point line with Oden working against Hibbert.
In theory, that will open up more lanes for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who is scheduled to play against Indiana, to go to the basket. In other words, Oden and Bosh on the court should create the space for Wade and James to exploit Indiana’s defense.
Both teams could use a win Wednesday night. The Pacers and Heat have had a lot of struggles in late February and early March. Offensively the Pacers have been struggling, scoring less than 80 points in three straight games.
The Heat’s once stellar defense has struggled recently with Miami giving up at least 95 points in seven losses in the last 12 games.
Miami is set to put a starting lineup of Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Greg Oden on the court against Indiana’s projected lineup of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert.
Indiana needs the momentum of a victory more than the Heat because Miami has beaten Indiana in the playoffs and advanced. Indiana has yet to conquer the Heat, though this year may be Indiana’s best chance and final chance with the current roster.