The Pacers visit Miami tonight for their first shot at the Insert-Your-Favorite-Aggrandizing-or-Derogatory-Nickname-for-the-Heat-Here. Here are a few nuggets for the game.
The Heat are only 8-5, but as you can see from the table above, they’re still a pretty good team statistically – ranking in the top 4 for both Offense and Defense.
Offensively, Miami has the lowest TOV% in the league, and they are extremely good at drawing fouls. This will be problematic for the Pacers, as you’ll see below that Indy doesn’t force a great deal of turnovers and foul…a lot. The Pacers offense at this point is largely dependent on whether or not they’re hitting shots.
The Pacers have been solid defensively, but not spectacular. As with last season, they are very susceptible to fouling – ranking 26th overall in FT/FGA. Miami’s defense has been strong across the board, ranking no lower than 12th in any of the Four Factors.
Indy’s last two visits to Miami were unmitigated disasters, with the Blue-and-Gold giving up over 116 points per 100 possessions while scoring fewer than 84. Even commenting on them means that I’ve gone back on a vow made after the January loss. The Heat will be without Udonis Haslem tonight and possibly Dwyane Wade, while the Pacers hope to have starting PG Darren Collison back after missing three games with a bum ankle.
If Collison returns, it should mean a significant advantage for the Pacers at the point. The emerging Roy Hibbert should give the Pacers an even greater advantage in the post. However, the presence of LeBron James and Chris Bosh make Miami a handful, and the numbers above seem to indicate that what Miami does well could do a lot of damage against what the Pacers do poorly.
Miami is only 8-5, but they’ve taken care of business against weaker teams. On Saturday, I noted that the Pacers had played a very weak schedule, and their WinFactor (WF) was a very low. The Heat’s schedule has been middle of the pack, but their LossFactor (LF – Home/Road Winning Pct of the teams that have beaten them) is very high – .714. They will still have to be considered a prohibitive favorite on their home floor tonight.
Some things to watch:
- Roy Hibbert will be key for the Pacers, as he is every night. It will be interesting to see if Miami looks to take him away from the opening tip, or if they come out straight up. Over the season, Hibbert has averaged 11.6 points on 54% shooting in an average 17 first half minutes per night. In 14 second half minutes per night, he drops to 5.1 points on 38% shooting.
- This weekend, both Mike Wells and Conrad Brunner wrote articles discussing Danny Granger’s revitalized defensive game. Tonight will be as tough of a test as he’ll face going against the King. I don’t know how this will turn out, but the Synergy numbers I’m showing below prove that Danny’s defense has been for real.
- We’re beginning to see a bit of a tussle for the shooting guard position. Brandon Rush more or less abdicated it when he drew a five-game suspension for substance abuse, but Mike Dunleavy hasn’t exactly put a stranglehold on the slot. Rush has been his usual spotty self, but he has played well the last two games. Unless Michael can begin to be a consistent scoring threat, I’d expect Brandon Rush to overtake him by the end of the this ten-game stretch.