The Indiana Pacers are the team nobody really talks about. The national media has been fixated on teams like the New York Knicks during their hot start. There has also been plenty of attention given to the Celtics and the questions surrounding their inconsistent play. Miami has been under the microscope since the arrival of King James, and even Chicago gets in the conversation when “experts” talk about the best teams in the Eastern Conference. You never hear that Indiana might challenge Miami for the East. After the Pacers’ 87-77 beatdown of the Heat last night, they have officially served notice that they are a real challenger.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been two of the best players on the planet since they entered the NBA in 2003. Neither guy was the best player on the floor Tuesday night. That honor belonged to Pacer swingman Paul George. George dropped in 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but it was his defense on the Heat’s two stars, especially LeBron, that really set the stage for the Indiana victory. James scored 22 points to go with 10 rebs, but he committed 7 turnovers while being pressured by George. Bron was also ineffective from the free-throw line, going 1-4. Wade started out the game in spectacular fashion, hitting for 23 points in the 1st half. He wound up with 30 for the game, after being held to only four shots for the entire 2nd half. Paul George was one reason for the Indiana victory.
The other big factor in the game was rebounding. Indiana outrebounded Miami 55-36. To lose that battle by such a significant margin is embarrassing. The Pacers had three players in with double figure rebs(George 11, David West 11, Roy Hibbert 14), and simply pushed the Heat around on the glass. To say Indiana was more physical would be an understatement, but why the domination on this night. Getting a rebound is an effort play. This is what guys like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone have always said, a rebound is about who wants the ball more. That’s why players like Chuck and Dennis Rodman were dominant rebounders even though they were never the tallest guys on the floor. The Heat seemed to fix this problem last year, maybe they are just in a lull.
This was the start of a 6-game road trip for Miami, and obviously not the start that they wanted. The Heat still sit atop the Eastern Conference, but only by 1/2 game over the Knicks. Of concern for this team shouldn’t be the standings. No, there are some flaws that need to be addressed. Coach Spoelstra still has to get his guys to rotate quicker on 3′s(Ind shot 41%), and the Heat have got to rebound better. Miami currently ranks 29th in the NBA in rebounding. There are only 30 teams. These two teams could very easily meet in the playoffs. If the boys from South Beach don’t tighten up, it could be a long series.
About the Author
Written by Sean Eckhardt
Univ of Alabama alumni. Born and raised outside Chicago, IL. Currently live in Florida. Some of my favorite teams include the Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Heat, and the Florida Panthers. My interests outside of sports include music, outdoor activities, and anything with a motor(cars, bikes, boats, etc...).