The Miami Heat will play the Indiana Pacers tonight in game three of this best of seven Eastern Conference Finals series. Tip off is scheduled for 8:30 (EST) and the game will be televised on TNT.
What the Indiana Pacers have in front of them is an opportunity not all professional teams ever get a chance of coming across; which is a do-over. Last year the Pacers had Miami in the same position, tied 1-1 coming home in a best of seven series, which they eventually ended up giving away as they lost the series in 6 games. The only difference this year is they’re are now fighting for a chance to get into the NBA finals, whereas last year they were just trying to get into the conference finals.
So if Indiana ever wanted to payback Miami, now is the chance. The Pacers were just a defensive stop away from being up in this series 2-0 right now. If you asked me which team has wanted it more based off of the performances in the first two games of this series, my definite answer would be Indiana, because they have been the more physical team.
It seems like no matter what Miami has done good so far, Indiana has been able to match it. And when Miami commits a mistake, the Pacers somehow find a chance to capitalize. And the Pacers are usually capitalizing with their big men down low.
Throughout the regular season and even through the first two games of this series, Miami has yet to find an answer to stopping Roy Hibbert or David West. West has absolutely dominated Udonis Haslem with his skill set and strength, while Hibbert is showing other teams why it is still important to have a real big man on your team in this now guard happy league. It probably doesn’t help either that 6-foot-11, 235 pound Chris Bosh is checking 7-foot-2, 280 pound Hibbert in the post, but thats why we have coaches in basketball; to adapt to what’s going on and to make adjustments.
Some good news for Miami though, or it could be bad news depending on the way you look at it, but Ray Allen, Norris Cole, and Shane Battier, three key players coming off Miami’s bench, went a combined 3-for-14 shooting for only 9 points in game 2. Miami only lost the game by four points; a game which also included a couple uncharacteristic turnovers by the MVP of the league LeBron James in the final plays of the game. After the game, James apologized to his teammates for his bad decisions late in game 2, and guaranteed he will bounce back in game 3.
With that said, I believe Miami will take game 3 on the road in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. When a player like Lebron James finishes a game like the way he did in game 2, you can expect him to come out with a spectacular-oh-my-god-did-he-just-do -that kind of performance in the following game. I also expect Miami, which has the better bench between the two teams, to get more contribution from their reserves than what they did in game 2. Expect another physical battle between the two teams and a final score of 95-87 in Miami’s favor.