2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview (TV, Schedule, Game Vitals): Heat Look to Close out Series Against Pacers

2013 NBA Playoffs
2013 NBA Playoffs
May 30 2013 Miami FL USA Miami Heat center Chris Bosh 1 defends a shot by Indiana Pacers power forward David West 21 in the fourth quarter of game five of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena The Heat won 90 79 Robert Mayer USA TODAY Sports

Status: Miami leads series 3-2
Date: Saturday, June 1st
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)

After a Game 5 loss to Miami, Indiana hopes to stave off elimination as they trail in the series, 3-2. A Heat win would send the team to the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 Preview
On Saturday, the Miami Heat hope to reach their third consecutive NBA Finals and face the San Antonio Spurs. But standing in their way will be the Indiana Pacers, looking to win at home and send the series to a Game 7.

For Miami to win, they’ll need bigger contributions from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh than they got in the last game. Lebron James, the third member of the Heat’s triumvirate of stars, had a strong Game 5 with 30 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, but Wade and Bosh were MIA. The duo was a disappointing 6-15 from the field and combined for only 17 points. Bosh, who the team desperately needs to rebound, also hauled in only five boards in 33 minutes of action. Udonis Haslem’s big game (16 points) helped spur the Heat on to victory, but Miami will need more tonight from Wade and Bosh in a hostile environment on the road.

The big story is the Chris Andersen suspension handed down from the league following Game 5. The Birdman will miss tonight’s game after an altercation with the Indiana Pacers’ Tyler Hansbrough. Anderson knocked Hansbrough to the floor after a missed shot by the Heat’s Norris Cole then also shoved him once he got up. The incident was physical enough that NBA commissioner David Stern later said that Andersen should have been ejected. Regardless of what may have led up to the altercation, Andersen acted out of control and the suspension was with merit. In addition to acting like a thug, he also dearly cost his team.

Miami is already thin in the frontcourt and has been beaten badly on the boards by Indiana. When you factor that Andersen was playing well, his loss hurts even more. Somehow, the Heat will need to replace his production off the bench. That may have to come from forwards Rashard Lewis or James Jones, who have rarely seen action in the playoffs. The other alternative is to lean even more on the starter Haslem.

Somehow, Hansbrough has found a way to get under the skin of the Heat. In addition to the Andersen situation, Haslem was also suspended for a game in last year’s playoffs against the Pacers after a hard foul to Hansbrough. But while Haslem’s foul was justified by some in that he was sticking up for teammate Dwyane Wade (who himself took a hard foul from the Pacer forward), it’s not entirely known why Andersen took to his aggressive actions against Hansbrough.

The Pacers’ frontcourt has played extremely well this postseason, but what Indiana desperately needs is for that consistency to spill into the backcourt. Indiana’s starting guards Lance Stephenson and George Hill have mostly played well, but have been spotty throughout the playoffs. Stephenson, in particular, has to give the team more. He shot 46% in the regular season, but is connecting on only 35% of his shots in this series. Hill has been a bit more steady than Stephenson, but he’s had his woes, too – like Game 5 when he scored only a single point and added three turnovers. The rebounding edge the team has enjoyed has helped, but the team is at their best when the guards are shooting well and limiting their mistakes.

If the Heat are able to close out the series, the NBA Finals will begin on Thursday in Miami. Should the Pacers win, Game 7 will be on Monday night.

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Anson Whaley
Anson Whaley is a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Mr. Whaley has also been a credentialed member of the media for various events. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');