- Heat vs. Pacers: Series Hub
Learn from the past or risk repeating it.
That’s sound advice always — the sort of wisdom that saves people from going on second blind dates and reveals how an NBA playoff contender can fix what ailed it in a previous series.
That’s the hope, anyway, of the Indiana Pacers, facing the Miami Heat in the East bracket for the second time in as many postseasons. They’ve been hard at work since eliminating the Knicks Saturday night, breaking down video and plumbing the results of their loss in six games in the conference semifinals last May.
The teams met three times in the 2012-13 regular season and those games are relevant, too (Indiana won the first two meetings, Miami the last). But the style of playoff ball is different and so is the schedule, facing the same foe over and over. By the end of Miami’s Game 6 victory on May 24, a genuine dislike and legit rivalry had been cemented.
It was the starting point for the three meetings this season, and it will serve as backdrop for the four-to-seven the teams play over the next two weeks.
“It’s going to be a beast,” Miami forward Chris Bosh said the other night.
Here are some takeaways from the 2012 showdown:
* No Bosh: The Heat’s talented, occasionally maligned power forward suffered a strained abdominal muscle in the first half of Game 1 and was done for the series. Miami actually trailed when Bosh exited, then won that game, but it did seem to help a Pacers squad that already was seen as having an advantage up front.
Sure enough, in Games 2 and 3, the Pacers’ two victories, they outrebounded Miami by 26. In the four they lost, they were beaten on the boards by a combined 19. Indiana forward David West didn’t have to contend with Bosh’s extended shooting range, and scored more points and shot more free throws than anyone in the series not named LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Center Roy Hibbert averaged 12.3 points and 11.5 rebounds, personal playoff bests.
The Heat’s most effective lineup a year ago included Joel Anthony. Now he hardly plays because Chris (Birdman) Andersen gives Miami energy, toughness and solid passing (and OK finishing) skills. And because Bosh is healthy and helping. Bosh is averaging a career playoff low 13.2 ppg, but that means nothing to him within the context of his and his team’s ambitions.
“I’m here to play a specific role and be what this team needs me to be,” Bosh said after the semifinals ouster of Chicago. “I’m not trying to have a big head, get to an ego problem, then think I’m too big for my britches and not want to change my role.”
Just playing, period, is important. He wasn’t too comfortable watching Miami slip behind 2-1 in games and 54-46 halfway through Game 4.
This time will be different, Bosh said. “I was really looking forward to that series and I didn’t get a chance to play. Hopefully this time around I can stay healthy, first of all, and put my imprint on the series like I wanted to last year. That’s why you stay patient and wait. I’ll get my chance, they’ll get their chance and everybody will be happy.”
Well, not everybody. (more…)