The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are set to take the court tonight in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The winner of this series will take on the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, after San Antonio completed their sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night. Indiana will have a chance to even up the series in front of their home crowd, but the Heat hope to win a second game on the Pacers home floor which would put them in position to clinch the Eastern Conference championship on their home court on Game 5.
They were able to provide us some insight in to tonight’s game, so here is what they had to say:
From Always Miller Time:
The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat face off in the pivotal game four in Indy. It took three games but the Heat turned up the heat on the Pacers in game three and now the Pacers have to respond.
What to Expect: I expect more of a focus from the Pacers in this game. I thought they were a bit off about trying to play up to the Heat and they need to settle down to play in their tempo. The Heat won’t explode for 70 points in the first half again.
Match up to watch: Lebron James and whoever ends up defending him. Paul George will be on him most of the evening but the Pacers will have to double team him at times as James took George into the post a few too many times in game three and I imagine the same thing happens.
Key Player: For the Pacers it’s all about Paul George. He has to defend Lebron James and look to be aggressive on offense. I think we have to see George step up on that offensive end.
Prediction: The Pacers need this one and have been so good at home so I believe they will sneak out with the win to pull even.
From All U Can Heat:
Game 4 is going to be the most important game of this series (though, I guess, everyone says that about every game). But seriously — it’s the most important game of this series, because if the Pacers don’t win they’re sitting in a (not-so-pretty) 1-3 hole, which means they would have to win the next three games in a row. Against the Miami Heat. Who have the best player on the world. Who has been relatively unstoppable this series (averaging around 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game). Oh, and if that wasn’t reason enough, if the Pacers lose Game 4, history will not be on their side — only eight teams have come back from 1-3 series deficits to win the series.
What to expect: I think it’s pretty cut and dry what Miami Heat — Indiana Pacers playoff basketball is about. Close, tense games, filled with physical play that go down to the wire (only exception to this rule is Game 3). LeBron’s probably going to try and man-handle Paul George in the post, like he did in Game 3, and how the Indiana Pacers deal with LeBron’s post play will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.
Match up to watch: I’ve already mentioned the importance of the LeBron — Paul George matchup, but another matchup that has been crucial all series is Bosh vs. Hibbert. Bosh can hit the mid-range jumper, which means when he gets touches on the perimeter, he 1)Pulls Hibbert away from the paint (freeing up some driving lanes and creating some space in the basket area, and 2) Because Bosh is about 1,000 times quicker than Roy Hibbert (though that’s not saying much seeing as a rock crazy-glued to a paper weight would probably be faster than Roy Hibbert) and because Roy Hibbert has to respect Bosh’s jumper, Bosh can either pump-fake and drive. And if Hibbert starts respecting the drive, Bosh can get a very clean look at a mid-range jumper, which is his bread and butter.
I suspect that getting Bosh involved in the offense more will lead to better offensive efficiency simply because Bosh — Hibbert is a mismatch and because Hibbert is no longer as much of a rim-protecting threat.
Key Player: The Heat bench has been struggling mightily this series (the only exception is Chris Andersen). Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Norris Cole are a combined 9-for-45 from the field. 9. For. 45. That’s 20%. I mean, 9-for-45 is so bad it would be a terrible batting average. That’s how bad 9-for-45 is. And despite almost zero production from their bench, the Miami Heat have managed to take a 2-1 series lead. If the Heat can get any (and I mean anyyyyyy) production from their bench they’ll not only win Game 4, but the Indiana Pacers will not win another game.
Prediction: I think the Miami bench, while not completely thawing from their ice-cold performances of late, might warm up a little bit and hit a couple crucial threes to help win this game for the Heat.
Who do you think will come out on top in tonight’s game? Sound off in the comments section and share your thoughts.