The Pacers showed they can be bullies too in their 102-89 victory over the Heat at home Friday night. Indiana has won 13 consecutive home games and is 2-0 against Miami this season. David West led the team with 30 points on an uber-efficient 12 of 15 from the field, seven rebounds and five assists.
Indiana took over the game early in the third quarter stretching an eight point halftime lead to as many as 19. The Pacers starters played their usual tough, physical brand of defense, but it was the effective offense that was the biggest surprise.
In the previous meeting between these two teams, Miami went through the motions defensively. The Heat did not play its patented swarming defense and allowed the Pacers to get into an offensive rhythm despite not hitting shots. In this game, the Heat were back to overplaying the passing lanes and fronting the post to make entry passes extremely difficult. It was the same type of defense that gave the Pacers big problems in their playoff series loss to the Heat last season.
Indiana had answers Friday night. The Pacers shot 56% from the field. West pounded smaller defenders like Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier in the paint with hooks in the lane and turnaround jumpers. Indiana hit the glass hard in the second half to outrebound Miami by nine. When the Heat’s defense collapsed to dribble penetration, the Pacers made the extra pass and knocked down open looks from the perimeter.
It was a complete game from a team that hasn’t had many this season. Miami was engaged and looking to make a statement that they were still the team to beat in the conference. Instead, it was Indiana that made the statement that it has enough weapons and will be ready to surprise come springtime.
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