Miami (22-7, won last three) @ Indiana (17-10, lost last three)
* 103.04 points per game (2nd in the NBA) vs. 95.07 points allowed per game (15th)
* 48.3% FG (1st) vs. 42.6% FG allowed(7th)
* 42.5 rpg (12th) vs. 40.25 rebounds allowed (5th)
* 20.75 apg (15th) vs. 15.46 TO pg (11th)
* 94.63 ppg (17th) vs. 92.37 points allowed (7th)
* 42.9% FG (24th) vs. 42.5% FG allowed (6th)
* 43.78 rppg (5th) vs. 42.59 rebounds allowed (21st)
* 18.04 appg (27th) vs. 15.22 TO pg (15th)
PG-Mario Chalmers vs. Darren Collison
SG-Dwyane Wade vs. Paul George
SF-LeBron James vs. Danny Granger
PF-Chris Bosh vs. David West
C-Joel Anthony vs. Roy Hibbert
Miami-Norris Cole, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem
Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones
Injuries of note
Indiana-Jeff Foster (back, day to day), George Hill (ankle, out)
The last time these two teams played on January 4, the Heat absolutely stuck it to Indiana, outscoring the Pacers 33-12 in the second quarter and 30-17 in the fourth, en route to a 118-83 smackdown. Roy Hibbert was Indiana’s lone bright spot, putting up a nice 16-12 line on 7-11 shooting. But even without Dwyane Wade, who sat due to injury, the Pacers couldn’t contain Miami’s offense, especially its frontcourt, as LeBron James and Chris Bosh combined for 55 points. On the night, Indiana was ice-cold from the floor, shooting just 35% to Miami’s 53%, and the Pacers committed almost twice as many turnovers (23) as they had assists (12).
The going gets no easier this week, as the Heat hit town with a healthy Wade; meanwhile the Pacers will contend with injuries to two of the team’s most important reserves (Foster and Hill). Pacers’ leading scorer, Danny Granger, was held to his second-lowest scoring output on the year in the last matchup, as he scored just six points on 2-13 shooting.
Luckily Indiana gets Miami on the tail end of a back-to-back-to-back, and the Heat are primed for a letdown after winning all three. Conversely, Indiana is just starting its own back-to-back-to-back, and is coming off of a two day break. Despite the practice time and rest advantage for the blue and gold, it will take big games from Hibbert, Granger and the rest of Indiana’s starting lineup to even keep up with Miami, a team poised for a title run this year. If Indiana wants to stop the bleeding caused by a recent three game losing streak (the team’s first losing streak of the year) they’ll come focused, aggressive, and intent on feeding Hibbert, who has an obvious and exaggerated advantage over Anthony and the rest of Miami’s bigs.
Prediction: Pacers 98, Heat 94
After two days off, the Pacers take advantage of a worn down, road-weary Heat team and steal a win they probably don’t deserve. In front of a sell-out crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (undoubtedly packed with d-bag wannabe Heat fans) Indiana clamps down on D, and keeps Miami’s FG% in the sub-45 range, limits mistakes and feeds their newly-named All-Star center like the huge, hungry monster that he is.
You’re obviously starting LeBron James, who is, by all standards, one of the top two fantasy options in the league. Same for Bosh, who though struggling lately, is still coming off of two double-doubles over the last three games. Wade’s righted the ship, scoring 20 or more in every February game so far. It’s eaten into James’s scoring average, but not enough to cause concern, as LeBron will help you in a myriad of other categories.
There are no sneaky plays for Indiana, one of fantasy basketball’s most infuriating teams. Paul George will either take charge and attempt several threes, while stuffing the stat sheet with hustle numbers, or completely forget he’s the second or third most talented player on the court. Granger will either dazzle you with a plethora of late game mid-range jumpers, mixed in with a few threes, or toss up double-digit, ill-advised clunkers from beyond 25 feet. Hibbert’s your most consistent Pacer for fantasy purposes, but he has just two February double-doubles, and seems somewhat timid since being named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve. Look for him to put up fine numbers this time, as he outsizes and outclasses all of Miami’s post defenders.
Lucas Klipsch is a so-called amateur sports writer, former editor-in-chief of a Web site that was too profane for the internet and whiskey enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @LukeNukem317