NBA Conference Finals Preview and Schedule: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

2013 NBA Finals
2013 NBA Finals
May 15 2013 Miami FL USA Miami Heat small forward LeBron James 6 during the second half against the Chicago Bulls in game five of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena Miami Heat won 94 91 Steve Mitchell USA TODAY Sports

Though the Miami Heat are ranked No.1 offensively and No.2 defensively as they make their way into the NBA Conference Finals, they no longer seem to be the indestructible behemoth they appeared to be some months ago. As the saying goes: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Both San Antonio and the Memphis Grizzlies, in theory, have enough weapons in storage to take a run at the champs. And Miami has arguably had the easiest road to navigate to arrive at this juncture. Toss in that Dwyane Wade’s knee is taped over more than a crime scene, and the 2013 NBA Conference Finals feel more than just ceremony―enough competition remains to at least question their chances of repeating as world champions.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, here are the lineups, schedules, and predictions for this year’s Conference Finals.

Eastern Conference:

Miami Heat (1) vs. Indiana Pacers (3)


Game 1 – Wed May 22, Indiana at Miami, 8:30 p.m., TNT

Game 2 – Fri May 24, Indiana at Miami, 8:30 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Sun May 26, Miami at Indiana, 8:30 p.m., TNT

Game 4 – Tue May 28, Miami at Indiana, 8:30 p.m., TNT

Game 5 – Thu May 30, Indiana at Miami, 8:30 p.m., TNT (if necessary)

Game 6 – Sat June 1, Miami at Indiana, 8:30 p.m., TNT (if necessary)

Game 7  – Mon Jun 3, Indiana at Miami, 8:30 p.m., TNT (if necessary)

The Heat slow-walk into the Eastern Conference Finals relatively unscathed, even if they are cut-up and bruised after throwing down with the Chicago Bulls in the semis. At 8-1, their postseason mark is about as speckless as projected. Even when teams jab at their weak spots, like size, the Heat respond with amplified dosages of their countless strengths. It’s like trying to stomp on a roach that makes up for its lack of size by becoming as quick as an antelope.

That said, the Indiana Pacers have plenty of their own strengths. In the last few games against the Knicks, for instance, they overcame the Golden State Warriors for the leading rebounding team in the playoffs. Something that should be making Spoelstra’s cronies extremely nervous. The Bulls gave Miami more trouble than it should have by dominating the boards in certain games. And they averaged about seven rebounds (40.8) less per game than the Pacers are currently (47.3). Miami’s RPG is at 39.3.

Like Chicago, the Pacers have two very capable big men that know how to use their physical advantages to beat opponents. Although Hibbert isn’t the all-around player that Joakim Noah is, he’s fully healthy and just as capable on the defensive end. In comparison to Noah, he is also a lot more offensively adept, and has the ability to carve out small teams to the tune of 20-plus. David West, like Boozer, has a very good 18-foot game, but is more bruiser than Boozer could ever hope to be. West is no defensive wiz, but isn’t quite the defensive liability Carlos Boozer often is for the Bulls.

Of course, Miami is no slouch. They have kept teams to the lowest PPG of the playoffs (84.7). Something that can further cripple an Indiana team is that can’t buy buckets at a hardware store. Despite facing middle ground defensive squads in New York and Atlanta, they could only fill the stat sheet at 92 points a game. Though, honestly, Miami should be more ashamed for only averaging 98.6 points a game after playing a Milwaukee team that wouldn’t get past a team of nuns and Chicago’s second unit.

Read More: Western Conference Preview and Schedule

It’s critical that the Pacers protect the ball, as they won two games against Miami this season averaging only six turnovers. In the game that they lost to the Heat, they clocked ten of them. Indiana’s turnover rate in the playoffs is not a good sign for Indy fans as it’s at a worrisome 15.9 per contest. Miami is not a lot better (14.8), but then again, no one can convert mistakes into points like the Heat. If the Pacers can control the pace of the game by capturing rebounds, that can help alleviate some of the turnover inclination.

Another area where the Pacers will find themselves at a disadvantage is in their reserves. There’s a Grand Canyon-sized drop-off from its world-class starting unit and a bench almost as bad as the Blazers’. David West is the only one of the starting five that is older than 30, so exhaustion won’t be an issue for keeping the starting squad on the floor for as long as possible, but foul trouble might be. If LeBron and Dwyane Wade can draw enough fouls from the Pacers, Indiana might find itself in troubled waters quite quickly.

Wade’s mention does bring up a decisive point. The 31-year-old shooting guard has to tape his kneecap to the right to avoid any nagging pain he’s experiencing from an injury. On top of sounding like a torture tactic, the taping seems like an act of desperation on Wade’s part. Only three younger than Kobe, and with a history of knee ailments, the situation feels extremely precarious for a Heat team that has lucked out injury wise all year long. It’s only going to get worse as Wade will be facing a savage Lance Stephenson, who takes no prisoners on either side of the ball, and a championship hungry Pacers team that see the glow of the Finals just past the Miami neon lights.

Even with the Wade injury, my mind picks Miami to take this series. Even after breaking down the details it should feel like the right move, but a gut feeling tells me Indiana somehow pulls this off. For starters, they out-rebounded Miami this season 122-88, which is not a laughing matter. I’ve been 8 for 10 in picking series winners this postseason, so following my gut has turned out well so far. In the end, one has to trust one’s body, and it’s evident that Wade will have a hard time doing that in the Eastern Conference Finals.


Indiana Pacers 4-3 Miami Heat

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Bogar Alonso
Bogar Alonso is a dedicated student of the hardwood, soccer pitch, boxing ring, and tennis court. He is a regular NBA contributor to XN Sports. His work, involving more than just sports, has appeared on The Creators Project, A&E Networks, XXL Magazine, and others. Follow Bogar on Twitter @blacktiles