With Miami dispatching New York on Wednesday, here’s an early look at the Heat’s looming second round series against Indiana:
The Knicks’ size advantage in their power rotation didn’t create any major obstacles for the Heat in the first round.
Now Miami hopes that Indiana’s size won’t be a problem in round two.
The Heat must contend with gifted 7-2 starting center Roy Hibbert, a bulldog power forward in David West, a balanced and skilled Indiana starting lineup and a pair of capable of point guards. Game 1 at AmericanAirlines Arena is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, on ABC.
Compared with the Knicks, "this is a better team," Dwyane Wade said of Indiana. "It will be a tougher series for us.... Indiana plays a lot more in the post. They play the outside game as well. That's a very good team."
"They have a lot of really good parts,” Heat forward Mike Miller said. “They’re playing well and their size will be a challenge.”
Chris Bosh said the Pacers “are a tough team, have great rebounders” and “are a little more balanced” than the Knicks.
The Pacers will enter the second round as clear underdogs, but TNT’s Charles Barkley predicts they will give Miami “trouble. That Indiana team is going to be very difficult. They are very deep. Danny Granger and Paul George can flat out play.”
Barkley - for what it's worth - predicts the series will go six or seven games and that the Pacers will win if they have a chance to clinch in game six. He said if the series goes seven, the Heat will win. OK then...
Meanwhile, Magic forward Glen Davis told The Indianapolis Star the Pacers “have a chance,… if they defend. They are athletic and long enough and have a big bench.”
The Heat won three of the four regular season meetings, averaging 101.5 per game while limiting the Pacers to 92.3. Miami won two of the games by 35 and 15, another in overtime, and lost one by 15. The Heat held a narrow edge in rebounding (50.5 to 49.8) and a lopsided advantage in shooting percentage from the field (48.0 to 40.4).
"We gave them more problems than they gave us," LeBron James said. "It's going to be fun."
Hibbert, who has a three-inch height advantage on Bosh in the center matchup, averaged 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds against the Heat, below his regular-season averages of 12.8 and 8.8. He was fifth in the league in blocks per game at 1.97, eighth in offensive rebounding and 18th in overall rebounding.
“The key to that series is going to be Roy Hibbert,” Barkley said.
Hibbert shot only 41.9 percent against the Heat, nearly eight points less than his season average. Bosh averaged 15.5 against the Pacers but just 5.3 rebounds.
“Hibbert is a challenge, but I’m more than capable of meeting that challenge,” said Bosh, who started at power forward during the teams’ four meetings this season but now starts at center. “He’s a load down there. He’s talented. I have no problem doing my part…. I’m the center.”
West, an inch taller than Udonis Haslem at 6-9, played well against Orlando in the first round and averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds during the regular season. His numbers against the Heat were comparable (12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds), but he shot only 35.7 percent (15 for 42) in the four games.
Haslem, conversely, averaged 5.8 points and 8.8 rebounds against Indiana in fewer minutes.
Also, keep in mind that the Heat will face younger, more formidable point guards than it did against the Knicks.
Darren Collison started all four games against the Heat during the regular season, averaging 13 points but producing as many turnovers as assists (13 apiece). Collison, who shot nine of 10 in the Pacers’ close-out win against the Magic, now come off the bench behind former Spurs guard George Hill, who shot 1 for 7 from the field in two appearances against the Heat. “Two quick guards,” Mario Chalmers said.
James (26.8 points, 8.5 rebounds) and Wade (22.7 points) did their usual sterling work against Indiana, though James 47.4 shooting percentage was off six points from his season average. For Indiana to have any shot, Granger cannot repeat his subpar regular season work against Miami (15 for 42 from the field, 35.7 percent).
Though the Pacers hadn’t won a playoff series since 2005 until this week, coach Frank Vogel said “we’re not happy just getting” to the second round. “We feel like this is just the beginning of a big run. We know a team can beat any group of superstars. Any given night, it can be a different guy on our team.”
Said Hibbert: “We didn’t do this the easy way. It took time. But Larry Bird and [general manager] David Morway drafted well. We got David West, George Hill, Leandro Barbosa and Lou Admundson for almost nothing. We didn’t do this by signing a couple superstars.”
### For details on Cam Wake's new Dolphins deal and other Dolphins notes, see our last post.