No longer the best rivalry in the Eastern conference, the Miami Heat still find beating the Indiana Pacers in the regular season incredibly difficult. Chris Copeland and Roy Hibbert and an excellent game amid all the defense and aggression, leading their team to the first road win of the season.
The fears of the Pacers were confirmed through the first eight games of the season – without Paul George (injured) and Lance Stephenson (left), they really are a pretty bad team, probably not good enough to make the playoffs as well. They came to Miami, a team playing some very good basketball up to this point which comes to more than just results but also the flow of their offense, without George Hill and David West as well. Chances looked slim.
And yet through defense and doing an excellent job in slowing down Chris Bosh, the Pacers managed to eliminate any kind of smoothness from the Heat’s offense. The Pacers shot just 37.5% from the field and played ugly basketball that was mostly about lowering their heads and pushing to the paint, but they made the Heat look even worse. Miami shot just 42.6% from the field and were mostly destroyed in the paint, allowing 16 offensive rebounds, which was always a problem for them against Indiana.
Chris Copeland, a player many thought Frank Vogel forgot about unjustly last season, was his top scorer with 17 points. Copeland might not be Paul George, but he’s a useful small forward to have and a very difficult player to defend. Roy Hibbert had what is possibly his best game in a very long time with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. He got a lot of help from Solomon Hill on the offensive glass with the pair combining to grab 9. Indiana outrebounded Miami 53-28.
Dwyane Wade had a good game with 20 points, but the Heat needed Chris Bosh and Luol Deng to show up. Bosh was held to just 3-of-13 from the field, scoring a season low nine points. Loul Deng, who was riding a hot hand going into the game, finished with just five points on 2-of-10 from the field. The Heat did get Chris Andersen back, but having a big more toughness down low didn’t help them put up more points on the board.
The Heat’s offensive efficiency going into the game was on par with their numbers from last season, with LeBron James. The Pacers took that away from them, but it’s not like Indiana can look this formidable defensively each game. To strengthen that point, the Pacers won’t win a lot of games scoring 81 points. From what we’ve seen from them this season, they’re not capable of doing a whole lot better most of the time.