Heat Face Reeling Pacers With An Eye On A Playoff Spot

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INDIANAPOLIS (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat have been on a pretty incredible run over the past couple months.

The Heat are pushing their way up the Eastern Conference standings and are finally on the verge of cracking the top eight.

The Heat try to make it five wins in the row and pull into a tie for the No. 8 spot when they visit the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

Miami continues to make a remarkable climb after falling as low as 11-30 and is a half-game behind the eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks, who are idle Sunday, after ripping past the Toronto Raptors 104-89 on Saturday.

“We’re not just going for eighth,” shooting guard Dion Waiter told reporters. “We’ve got bigger expectations than that. So people saying we’re one game out of eighth, that’s not really our goal. We know what we’ve got to do. We just got to take care of business, keep getting better.”

The Pacers are sitting in the No. 6 spot in the East but are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Heat after dropping 10 of their last 14.

Indiana is still struggling to find any consistency with a month left in the regular season and looked like two different teams in a 115-98 triumph over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday and a 99-85 setback at Milwaukee on Friday.

TV: 6 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Sun (Miami), FSN Indiana

ABOUT THE HEAT (32-34): Points guard Goran Dragic scored 15 points in 17 minutes Saturday before leaving the game after taking an elbow to the eye socket.

Dragic, who leads the team in scoring (20.1 points) and assists (six), will travel with the team to Indiana and insisted that a little blurred vision won’t keep him down for long, but coach Erik Spoelstra was more cautious and considered his point guard day-to-day.

Tyler Johnson, who scored 16 points off the bench Saturday, could start at the point Sunday if Dragic is unable to go.

ABOUT THE PACERS (33-32): Indiana handed out 27 assists in Wednesday’s victory over the Pistons, and it was easy for coach Nate McMillan to diagnose the differences on Friday.

“(We) stopped moving, started turning the ball over,” McMillan said. “I thought we stopped moving. Ten assists in the first quarter, only three in the second quarter, and then two for the second half, so you’re not moving, you’re not moving the ball, and you’re not knocking down shots.”

Point guard Jeff Teague recorded more turnovers (seven) than assists (four) in the loss after totaling 20 assists and seven turnovers in the previous three contests.

BUZZER BEATERS

  1. Waiters is 14-of-25 from 3-point range in the last three games.
  2. Indiana PF Thaddeus Young averaged 14 points in the last two games after failing to score in double figures in any of the previous five contests.
  3. Miami took each of the last four meetings, including a 113-95 home triumph in the most recent matchup Feb. 25.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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