MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat have been playing with a patchwork lineup lately but that hasn’t stopped them from reeling off a couple of big wins.READ MORE: Arrest Affidavit: Accused Hollywood Cop Killer Jason Banegas Claims He Was Trying To Kill Himself In Struggle With Slain Officer Yandy Chirino
All-Star guard Dwyane Wade is listed as questionable due to his aching left knee when the Heat host the Indiana Pacers in another key Eastern Conference matchup on Monday.
Wade has missed the past two games due to the soreness from an injury he suffered during practice last Wednesday.
Being without Wade and All-Star forward Chris Bosh – the latter is out indefinitely with a blood clot in his left calf – has led to Miami speeding up the pace and it is averaging 114.5 points in back-to-back wins with forward Luol Deng emerging to average 28.5 points and 10.5 rebounds.
“You have to play to the strengths of your personnel,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporter after Saturday’s 114-94 rout of the Washington Wizards. “I know fans love to see this and our players love to play it.”
Indiana recorded a 105-102 road victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday for its fourth win in five games, a stretch that includes an impressive road win in Oklahoma City.
“Our whole mindset has shifted,” Pacers forward Paul George told reporters after the win over Orlando. “We’re playing with more confidence down the stretch in games, with a confidence that we’re supposed to win. It’s going to change the way we finish the season.”
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ABOUT THE PACERS (30-25): Indiana stands fifth in the Eastern Conference – one game behind Miami – and figures it can make a run at finishing third in the conference and possibly even second.
“We’re past the growing pains, and we went through a reboot during the All-Star break,” guard Monta Ellis told reporters. “Everyone came back with a goal we’re trying to meet, and that’s finishing the second half strong and catch fire leading into the playoffs.”
Ellis is averaging 24 points and made 8-of-12 from 3-point range in the first two games after the break while George had 20 points against Orlando for his sixth straight 20-point outing and he is averaging 24.3 points during the stretch.
ABOUT THE HEAT (31-24): The faster pace has allowed point guard Goran Dragic to roam the floor similar to the way he once did while starring for the Phoenix Suns and he scored a season-high 24 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds in the win over the Wizards.
“It’s really fun,” Dragic told reporters. “Everybody’s loose and playing free-minded, just reacting and trying to push that ball. Everybody’s running and everybody’s dangerous. We’re moving the ball, too.”
Dragic is averaging 20.5 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the two games and has scored in double digits in five straight consecutive contests.
- The Pacers have lost eight of their last nine regular-season games in Miami, including a 103-100 overtime defeat on Jan. 4.
- Heat C Hassan Whiteside had 25 points and 23 rebounds against the Wizards for the second 20-20 game of his career.
- Indiana rookie PF Myles Turner has scored in double digits in six straight games and 14 of the last 16.
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