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Pacers win first Conference Finals rematch vs. Heat

Dec 10, 2013, 10:09 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game Six Getty Images

The Pacers wanted their Dec. 10 game vs. the Heat a whole heck of a lot more than Miami did, after falling to the eventual back-to-back champs in the Conference Finals a season ago and being very open with their goals heading into this year’s campaign.

Indiana hasn’t been shy about declaring its desire to finish the season with the top seed heading into the playoffs, and the team similarly made no attempt to disguise their interest in this particular December contest against the Heat, no matter how many games remain in the regular season before the playoff series (plural) that will decide this year’s champion even begin to take place.

Miami’s fast start may have had you believe that things were under control, and that the Pacers were pressing a bit given all they believed was at stake in this early-season-contest. But the third quarter saw Indiana turn things around and gain control, and behind 15 second half points apiece from Paul George and Roy Hibbert, the Pacers improved to 19-3 on the season with a 90-84 victory that continued to propel their belief that they will have what it takes come playoff time to dethrone the defending champs.

If the first quarter was any indication, that may not happen so easily.

Indiana was very vocal before this one in its desire to make a statement by getting this victory, but the Heat players and coaches couldn’t have been less interested in trying to defend the team’s honor in an early-December contest. The on-court action from Miami suggested otherwise, however, at least in the opening frame where LeBron James personally took on the responsibility of guarding George, and shut him down by holding him without a relevant statistic in the game’s first 12 minutes.

George finished scoreless without a rebound or an assist in the opening period, while James opened the game with eight points, five rebounds and two assists in the exact same span.

Indiana came out after halftime and imposed its will for the most part, thanks largely to George and Hibbert as we’ve previously discussed. The reality is that Miami has no answer for what Hibbert brings as currently constructed, which is more than likely the reason the team has brought Greg Oden into the fold, and continues to develop him slowly.

If Oden should be ready to contribute even in the range of 15 minutes per game for Miami in the postseason, that’s a complete game-changer for how these two teams might match up in a seven-game series.

For now, however, Oden is out of the picture, and Hibbert remains the most dominant big man in the Eastern Conference.  Miami cannot match up with him on a single-game basis, but may be able to get above-average performances from LeBron, Wade, and/or Bosh to mitigate Hibbert’s impact over a singular 48 minutes.

Tuesday night in Indiana, the Heat simply weren’t up to that challenge.

  1. raiderdan69 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Great game. Honestly cannot wait to see these two slug it out in what probably will be the eastern conference finals. As good as miami are they have no answer to hibbert and once lebron has a few fouls there’s no one to shut down george. Wades health will determine how far miami can go.

  2. rodge1 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    Good win for the Pacers. Miami might need to use a ‘hack-a-Hibbert’ plan with Joel Anthony in the 2nd half next time. This will be another great year in the nba. Looking forward to the playoffs

    • pacers24 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      hack-a-Hibbert? He’s shooting 78% from the line this yr and is a career 73% shooter

      that plan will back fire quickly lol

      • asimonetti88 - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        Shh… don’t tell them that. Would love to see a team intentionally foul a 78% FT shooter to put him on the line.

    • xli2006 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      “Hack-a-Hibbert”… Umm, PLEASE do that. He is one of the best FT shooting Bigs in the league. Maybe one of the better FT shooters over 7′ 0″ in NBA History.

  3. kchoya - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    Game changer? Seems like Hibbert outplayed Oden in the final four, and the gap has only widened since then.

  4. golfrangeman - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    The problem with hack a Hibbert is he shoots free throws pretty well. Looked like the Heat got a little sloppy late and LBJ missed a couple at the rim he usually makes. I don’t see the Heat catching them for best record a think they’ll just cruse through the regular season and focus on the playoffs. Personally I think it’s going to be a boring reg season Indy and Miami are just so much better then anyone in the east.

  5. rodge1 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    @pacers24

    As a Heat fan I’d rather Hibbert shooting from the FT line than close to the rim.

    • davidly - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:29 AM

      As a Pacers fan I can tell you that he actually shoots better from the line–frustrating, but true.

    • davidly - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:57 AM

      To clarify, I mean that it is frustrating when he misses shots close to the rim, not that he shoots well from the line–though, you being an opposing fan, I understand your logic.

  6. apkyletexas - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    “If Oden should be ready to contribute even in the range of 15 minutes per game for Miami in the postseason, that’s a complete game-changer for how these two teams might match up in a seven-game series.”

    You owe me a new keyboard, Pollakoff. I just spit coffee all over it.

    Greg Oden. “The Game Changer”. Oh my.

    • xli2006 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      What would Oden do against Hibbert and West? What would even be able to do against Scola and Mahinmi for that matter?

      Please explain to us how Oden would be a “game changer”.

      PBT loves to throw these statements out there as if the fans/readers aren’t paying attention. Well, we are and they sound ridiculous.

      • xli2006 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        That was supposed to be directed toward the writer of the article… not you @apkyletexas

  7. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    nuthin

  8. bballhistorian - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Imo it was a great game for both teams. Indiana got it’s revenge by winning, and Miami gets to “gauge” this yrs Indiana team, and see what needs/adjustments they need to do before playoff time. I still expect Indiana to win most of their regular season games vs the Heat this season.

    However, I still think that Miami will pull of this series (come playoff time)…even if (when) Indiana gets home court. Historically, teams that three-peat usually have to play on the road to beat their nemesis come playoff time (Bulls-Knicks ’93, Bulls-Pacers ’98 (although bulls had home court), Lakers-Kings ’02). Yeah i know those winning teams all had the same coach, but I wouldnt put anything past Pat Riley, either.

    But i do think that Riley needs to trade for another great on-the-ball defender besides LBJ, to contain Paul George. When LeBron is on George, he gets shut down…as soon as someone else is on him…different story! Wade can’t do it anymore, especially come playoff time with his knee issues. So hopefully they can get a great DEFENDER-first backup guard before trade deadline, or Miami’s chances in beating the Pacers in the playoffs this year will be might ify.

    • bikerboy24 - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:13 AM

      Just to help you out, the 1998 Bulls played and closed out the finals on the road, over the Jazz.

      • sportsfan18 - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM

        True.

        But in each of the 6 NBA Finals that they won with MJ, they always won by the 6th game at the latest.

        MJ never let one of the series even get to a 7th game.

        And of course, MJ never lost in a NBA Finals series either.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:30 AM

      The revenge they covet isn’t going to happen in December.

    • edwardemanuelson - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:20 AM

      The 02 Lakers had another thing on their side: David Stern.

      • asimonetti88 - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        They also won a Game 7 on the road. Since 1948, the road team is 23-91 in Game 7s.

  9. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    It’s not about Oden. It’s about the Heat shooting 4 for 21 from 3. 19%. This is a team that shoots what, 45% from 3? Heat aren’t shooting this poorly 4 out of 7.

    This loss was nothing. And as far as standings go, Zaz said it best. The Heat are 3 back with 60 to play. I think things will be fine.

  10. metalhead65 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    good win for the Pacers and the heat and their fans can claim it means nothing but I guarantee you if they had won Kurt and the rest of the heat fan club would have been talking about how the Pacers were not ready to challenge them yet and how far they had to go. the statement the Pacers made was that they are a different team this year and ready for the challenge of taking on the world champs. the team made no insults to the heat or did any bragging. all they said was their goal was to beat the heat and make the finals this year, are they suppose to say we hope we are good enough to lose to them again this year?

    • Kurt Helin - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      For the record I said and wrote going into this game that the outcome was meaningless in trying to predict the playoffs. And by the way, I picked the Pacers to win it all this year. But go ahead, assume whatever you want.

      • metalhead65 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

        it was not meaningless for the Pacers who want the best record so they can have home court advantage in the playoffs. it also showed them where they are at a quarter of the way in the season. it is not their fault the heat do not care about regular season games although they will singing a different tune when they play again in Miami. as for my assumptions anybody who reads this blog which is quite good by the way, knows you are lebron and the heat’s biggest fan.was not aware you picked the Pacers to win it all but good for you and I hope they do and this win is good step in that direction for them.

  11. philtration - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    I have never seen a team run their mouth before mid December as much as the Pacers are doing right now.

    Get over yourselves.

    • metalhead65 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      so saying your goal is to beat the world champs and win it all is trash talking now? it’s called a goal and theirs is to dethrone the heat. every team should feel that way. they came close last year and now want it all. how is that talking to much?

      • antistratfordian - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        But that’s not exactly what they’re saying. They walk around entitled as if they’ve already done it. It’s okay, they’ll just learn the hard way… AGAIN.

      • metalhead65 - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:27 AM

        I have no idea where you get your news but here in Indiana where they actually cover the Pacers all they talk about is having a better record than the heat so they can have home court advantage in the playoffs. they do not act entitled about anything, the only thing they talk about is how much they want to win this year after coming close last year. if that offends the heat then to bad put your big boy pants on and stop them. but honestly what do you want them to say? gee I hope we lose again in 7 games to the heat in the playoffs?

      • antistratfordian - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:42 AM

        You must not be much of a Pacers fan. I’m not just talking about this season – this goes back to the 2012 semifinals series, at least. Roy Hibbert appears to be spearheading this arrogant attitude in Indiana (at one point it was Hibbert and Granger).

        The Pacers have been this way for a while now – and yes it does irritate the Heat, just like it did last year and the year before. LeBron commented on this attitude of theirs early last year:

        “They’ve been talking a lot. I read a lot of clips they had before the season, said they were better than us and they should have beat us, so we’ll be ready.

        …but it is amusing sometimes, you see guys, you see teams talking and they didn’t beat you.”

        I’m sure nothing gives the Heat more pleasure than shutting up some arrogant wannabes. They are more than willing to give your Pacers another lesson in humility.

    • timberwolvesbrisin - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Yah the pacers are becoming more hateable than the heatles. Talk to me in June Indiana.

  12. floridascuba1 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    Rose and the bulls had home court and best record. Not to mention I believe it was a season sweep. The heat destroyed them come playoffs

  13. antistratfordian - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    Well they play again in 8 days. Should be fun.

    • bougin89 - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      “I’m sure nothing gives the Heat more pleasure than shutting up some arrogant wannabes. They are more than willing to give your Pacers another lesson in humility.”

      So the Pacers are like the Heat before they won any titles?

      Did you also dislike the Heat before they won and call them arrogant wannabes?

      • antistratfordian - Dec 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        The Heat never said they were better than any other team. They never talked trash like Roy Hibbert did – saying that the Pacers were made “the right way” and that the Heat were made the wrong way. They didn’t call another team the biggest floppers in the league. They never said anything negative about anybody.

        Miami only said, and I’ll quote LeBron directly on this, that:

        We believe we can win multiple championships if we take care of business and do it the right way.

        The Pacers are saying something different. They’ve lost to Miami twice and still think it’s appropriate to imply that they’re the better team and that that they “should’ve” won. That’s hubris and poor sportsmanship.

      • bougin89 - Dec 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Like when Wade and Lebron were making fun of Nowitzki during the Finals that they lost?

        You’re blind for you admiration of Lebron and the Heat. With everything you say about the Pacers and their arrogance it’s surprising you don’t call the Heat for what they were their first offseason and season together.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Did they talk trash about Nowitzki? Did they say the Mavs couldn’t beat them? No and no. They’ve only said that they admire Dirk as a player – they never said anything negative about him or his team.

        I’m only being objective. Miami, the city, had a rally for themselves at no one else’s expense. The Pacers are calling out other teams. Completely different philosophy between the two clubs – Vogel and Hibbert are confrontational. Miami is not confrontational. They do their talking on the court.

      • bougin89 - Dec 13, 2013 at 4:28 PM

        Haha. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  14. fnf417 - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:30 AM

    They get grainger back this team is gonna be better than they are now

  15. fnf417 - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    Miami might be fine and only 3 back but Indiana isn’t the only team beating them I guess we will see come playoff time

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 11, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      Every team can beat Miami once. Some can beat them twice. A fee can beat them 3 times. But that fourth one? That fourth one is the b**ch of the bunch.

  16. fnf417 - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    I think if Indiana stays healthy and grainger is in the lineup come playoff time this will be a different series in the playoffs due to they didn’t have him last year against Miami in the playoffs and it still went 7 games…he was also their leading scorer I think it will make a difference true that Miami doesn’t have Beasley but Hibbert will still shoot over him easily like he was last night grainger is more of an impact player

    • gostlcards5 - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      You have to realize also that it’s not just about the same pieces as last year, plus Danny Granger. This team is deeper, with guys that can score off the bench, and the Pacers did not have that last year. Last night was a great example of that, as the Pacers really cut Miami’s lead in half with basically the second unit on the floor, Luis Scola and CJ Watson were big contributors during that run. These guys were huge pickups for the Pacers. Then, if Granger is 75% of what he used to be, he is either a great addition to the starting lineup, or a big weapon off the bench.

  17. fnf417 - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    Also Oden is a joke has been since he entered the NBA all he will be is a body to throw at Hibbert other than that I don’t see him doing much

  18. ravenswhat - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Damn Lebron. Just..damn. They got in your head dude.

  19. cruzan80 - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    If the Heat dont figure out a way to trade for say Asik from Houston..they will get ousted by the Pacers come next May. Oden is NOT a “game changer”. Hibbert worked him college..he’s suppose to stop Hibbert now???

  20. jbeagles23 - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    David west said it best “were closer to our goal of having the beat record in the east” someone let him know that’s not the ultimate goal

    • davidly - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      He is aware that it is the penultimate goal. That’s the point; it makes the ultimate goal better achievable.

  21. unxpexted1 - Dec 11, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    This matchup will always be about who can impose their styel on the other team. Tonight, the pacers we’re able to play their brand of ball. Miami did miss some shots, but you have the give the NBA’s best defense some credit. They make Miami work for everything. The way they run people off the three peat line was great fundemental defensive basketball to watch.

  22. jbeagles23 - Dec 11, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    I do agree Indiana is a tough matchup for the heat but please stop talking about granger making an impact. He led an awful pacers team in scoring and has been injured forever.

  23. fnf417 - Dec 11, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Come playoff time he will make an impact that’s 60 games to get back to form and they wasn’t that awful they made it to the eastern conference finals and it took 7 games to beat them but I guess making it that far they are still an awful team

  24. fnf417 - Dec 11, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Awful teams don’t make the playoffs

    • dynasonic - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      They do in the Eastern Conference

  25. timberwolvesbrisin - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Lol at calling oden a “game-changer.”

    Hahahahahaha!!

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