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Pacers/Heat Game 7 preview: Win or go home

Jun 3, 2013, 8:41 AM EDT

Heat's James and Pacers' Stephenson prepare to play during the fourth quarter in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series in Indianapolis Reuters

The Miami Heat are at home, they have the swagger that comes with having hung a banner, they are battle tested, and they have the best player in the world on their team. He’s the trump card.

The Indiana Pacers are confident, they have the blueprint on how to win against the Heat, they are big and able to pound Miami inside, and they have a defense that can keep them in any game.

Miami is playing for its legacy. Indiana has a confidence that comes from having beaten Miami in Miami once this series — and if Roy Hibbert hadn’t been watching the final moments of Game 1 from the bench, they might have ended this series already.

Miami vs. Indiana Game 7 — winner goes on to the NBA Finals, loser goes fishing. One game, win or go home.

The keys to this big game remain what they have all series.

Indiana’s offensive rebounding is the key barometer for them — when Hibbert and David West are getting offensive rebounds and second-chance points the Pacers’ offense can score with the Heat. In their wins Indiana has grabbed the board on close to 40 percent of its missed shots, they need to do that again. Indiana will also try to use that size by getting the ball inside, getting their big men looks and ideally drawing fouls and getting a lot of free throws. Hibbert has averaged 22.8 points and 10.8 rebounds a game this series to lead them. Paul George has been brilliant and he is the perimeter player that stirs the drink.

LeBron James has been fantastic this series as well — he’s averaged 28.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game (and usually one flop). He’d average more assists but his help on offense has been inconsistent at best — Dwyane Wade has looked grounded because of the bone bruise on his knee, while Chris Bosh has been overmatched much of the series against the larger Pacers front line. Someone — Wade, Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem — has to step up, knock down shots and be a second scorer with LeBron for Miami to win. Indiana has chased Miami off the three-point line all series, the Heat need those threes that fueled their powerful offense all season. And they have to rebound — like a pack, as they did all season. Miami cannot let Indiana dominate the glass.

The Heat’s advantages are they are at home, where those role players they need tend to be more comfortable and play better. They also get Chris Andersen back following a one-game suspension for foolishly shoving and challenging Tyler Hansbrough — Miami missed the Birdman in Game 6.

Defense will be the key — Miami has averaged 106.9 points per 100 possessions this series, which is 10 points better than the Pacers allowed during the regular season; Indiana is right with them averaging 106.5 points per 100, which is 5 points better than they scored during the season and 6 better than the Heat allowed. The Heat try to swarm you with athleticism (although they stop trapping on pick-and-rolls a couple games ago) and the Pacers use their length on the perimeter and size in the paint to challenge everything.

One team’s defense will likely step up tonight and slow the other team down — do that and they are playing the Spurs Thursday night.

Also, Game 7s have ways of making heroes out of unexpected players. Is this the game Norris Cole just goes off for Miami, driving and knocking down threes? Does Lance Stephenson seem immune to the pressure and have a huge game for the Pacers with an athleticism the Heat cannot slow?

Miami is and should be the favorites at home, but the Pacers enter with a genuine belief they can win this thing.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is right — these are the kind of games we talk about 20 years from now. The kind of games that define legacies.

Because it’s simple and clear — one game for everything. Winner takes it all.

  1. halfbaht - Jun 3, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Let’s go pacers!

  2. tomtravis76 - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Bosh and Wade need to put on their big boy uniform on tonight. These two are billed as top 15 guys in the league, they have done nothing. It is an all about what have you done for me today league. If the get put out, Lebron needs to have a sit down with Riles about the look of the roster next season. They need bigs like the 3 headed monster the Bulls rolled out in the Jordan days.

  3. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Scott Foster, Mike Callahan, Kenny Mauer

  4. lastdukestreetking - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    Best thing that could happen for the NBA would be a Pacers win tonight.

    • reasonablemindsays - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Just to see the look on Stern’s angry face.

    • tabcdef9 - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      Yup. And then we wouldn’t have to listen to that JERK PA announcer in Miami anymore. Pacers deserve to win on the merits.

  5. gmsingh - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Kurt, shouldn’t that be “Win, go home, or let the refs follow the road map Stern has laid out for them”?

  6. edwardemanuelson - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Let’s get Stern a ratings killer for his last Finals : Spurs and Pacers!

    • davidly - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      It would be great to have the NBA commish go out with an ABA legacy finals.

    • reasonablemindsays - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      Would be hilarious if the Spurs go up 3-0 and then Pop decides to rest the starters the rest of the way.

      • reasonablemindsays - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        Just to get back at Stern for fining him earlier in the season.

      • edwardemanuelson - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:25 AM

        Agreed with all of you above! TECHNICALLY, regardless of all the Heat fans and haters, it’s a small market finals. But… Pacers and Spurs? A real snoozer! Bring it on!

  7. davidly - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    I don’t like the winner take all/sudden death aspect of game sevens. The league should change game seven to a five-game series.

  8. bucrightoff - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Most fun game to watch the refs in a long time. I expect Indiana to be in the penalty before the 6:00 mark of every quarter.

    • bcwildcat24 - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Well if they call fouls when they really are fouls, then you’re probably right.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 3, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        24: You better hope they don’t call a straight up game (LIKE GAME #6).
        If they do…its a ‘W’ for the good guys.
        If the NBA = WWF…then the Heat win.
        Go Pacers!

  9. 1historian - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    “Win or go home!!”

    Strong stuff, Kurt – did you think that one up all by yourself?

  10. reasonablemindsays - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    I’m confident the Miami Heat are winning this game. If I were a betting man I’d bet everything I own. If I’m wrong by some miracle of god, which I won’t be, then you guys can come back to this thread to make fun of me.

  11. jbeagles23 - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    You mean like every quarter in his series?

  12. reesesteel23 - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    The same people that say Heat vs. Spurs is already set in stone are they same people saying they cant wait to see the look on Stern’s face when the Heat lose…….Is it rigged or is it not rigged, which one is it?? O reverse psychology??

    • reasonablemindsays - Jun 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      Well I know for a fact that the Heat are winning the game. There’s nothing I or anyone else can do about it. But, however, I am still rooting for the underdog Pacers.

    • gmsingh - Jun 3, 2013 at 7:16 PM

      Is it rigged? We seem to have reached a decision when Scott Foster was announced.

  13. bcwildcat24 - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    If the Heat win tonight, how many posts will we see tomorrow ranting about how the NBA is rigged and the refs gave this game to Miami. On the other hand, if Miami loses this game, I’m sure we’ll see just as many posts saying the Heat fans whine too much. SMH

  14. floridascuba1 - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Pacers have Joey Crawford tonight.

  15. miamatt - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Nothing like a game 7 to get the heart pounding. This is going to be a scrum.

    GO HEAT!!!

  16. bcwildcat24 - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Who are the refs for tonight? Please no Joey Crawford!

  17. goodknave - Jun 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Joey Crawford is NOT one of the refs, but that doesn’t mean the game won’t be “controlled.” There is no way in the world that the league is going to allow an Indiana-San Antonio final. It reminds me of 2001, when the NBA suspended Milwaukee’s Scott Williams ( a key player, though not great) for Game 7 against Philly after he bumped into Iverson in Game 6. It’s a fraud and a sham, but that’s the way the league operates.

    The NBA has ruined a great sport.

  18. raiderdan69 - Jun 3, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    its really annoying knowing the heat will probably win…but anyone saying the spurs/pacers would be boring knows absolutely nothing…parker vs george, hibbert vs duncan thats 4 of the most inform players in the league right now going head to head

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