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Beasley out, LeBron game-time decision; Heat not worried about Pacers right now

Dec 18, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT

LeBron James Paul George Getty Images

Make no mistake, the Miami Heat know exactly who is standing between them and a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals — the wall that is 7’2” Roy Hibbert and his Indiana Pacers.

The Heat also know no game in December is going to determine the outcome of what is a seemingly inevitable Eastern Conference Finals matchup between those teams in late May.

So Miami heads into Wednesday night’s rematch with Indiana — the Pacers came from behind to win on their home court last week — not thinking about this being any kind of a statement.

Case in point — LeBron James remains a game-time decision with his sprained ankle and some other key Heat players will not be part of this game.

The Pacers are not at 100 percent either — coach Frank Vogel is ill and could miss the game. Plus they are still without Danny Granger.

The Heat will give lip service to playing their style and they will come out with a real effort Wednesday — a lot will fall to Chris Bosh, he has to nail 18 foot and longer jumpers to draw Roy Hibbert out of the paint, and he has to be strong on the boards.

Indiana has said before they want the No. 1 seed badly — if there is another Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals between these teams they want it at their place. That’s a good motivation; they seem more focused early this season than the Heat.

Still, the fact remains that regular season matchups of teams are poor indicators of postseason success. When these two teams meet in the playoffs they both will be very different teams — Indiana likely have Granger back (or whomever they trade him for) and the Heat will have several players in the lineup.

This game is more like the scripted early moves of a chess match; the real play will not come for a while. Still, this should be fun to watch.

  1. miamatt - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    As a Heat fan of course I want to see them win.

    But even if they win or lose by 100, it won’t mean a whole heck of a lot come May. We know Miami has beaten the Pacers in two straight playoff series. We know the Pacers can beat the Heat on any given night and are probably the NBA’s most legitimate threat to knock out the champs in the postseason. None of this changes tonight.

    Still, should be a compelling watch, per always. Much respect the the Pacers and their fans.

    • gostlcards5 - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Totally agree matt….mad respect back at ya.

    • davidly - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      I completely agree as well. Fact is, even as an Indiana fan, I know that the Heat sit in the catbird seat; the Pacers have everything to prove and Miami has nothing to lose until the spring.

      Still, we wouldn’t bother watching if we didn’t care at all. Let’s hope LBJ plays.

  2. gostlcards5 - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    I agree that the games in December mean nothing come May. They mean more to Indy, because Indy wants to “prove” they can beat the Heat. However, all these games can be is very small confidence builders for the playoffs. They’re young, but I think they know the record is out the window.

    That being said, I’m glad that Miami isn’t focused on Indiana right now. The Pacers do have a better chance to win with home court. Miami is talented enough that it probably doesn’t matter as much, especially with the BPITW* on the team. But whether LeBron plays or not, it’s going to be a must-watch. I bet Miami plays well without him.

    * BPITW = best player in the world (for those that couldn’t figure it out)

  3. bougin89 - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    The Heat shouldn’t be worried about the Pacers tonight and vice versa. The only thing the Pacers are concerned with is trying to get the #1 seed in the East. They’ll need every advantage to get past the Heat in the playoffs and home court would be the biggest advantage they could get, if they can get it.

  4. antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Hey, maybe the Pacers can win themselves another “championship” game. They’ll have two championship wins! Then they can all retire and vote themselves into their own hall of fame.

    • bougin89 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Yeah, I don’t agree with how the Pacers are going about their business either. They should have danced around on stage with fireworks, that’s way cooler.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:20 PM

        They had nothing to dance about. Their players aren’t that great.

      • bougin89 - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:22 AM

        Yeah, their team last year was 1 game below Miami in the playoffs so they didn’t deserve to roll out the circus.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        You’re naive if you think the Pacers were simply “1 game below Miami.” They were several tiers below Miami which is why they got annihilated in Game 7. The gap between them is large, as it always will be as long as Miami has LeBron and Wade.

        Pacers supporters will obviously perceive them to be a closer match – much as they did in 1997 when the Pacers took the Bulls to 7 games. But the gap between those two teams was huge then as well, as it always was when you’re playing against Jordan and Pippen.

        And if Indiana landed LeBron in the summer of 2010 I can guarantee you that Larry Bird would’ve been out somewhere tap dancing in excitement. Maybe just at an Olive Garden, but it would’ve been somewhere.

      • bougin89 - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        Well being that there was literally a game 7 it means the Pacers were 1 game away. If George doesn’t overplay Lebron on the last play of (I believe it was game 2) to give him a layup at the end of the game they may win the series. Obviously with your Heat glasses on you won’t see it any other way, which is why you are biased.

        The Pacers were 1 game away from beating the Heat. They couldn’t get it done which means the Heat were the better team.

        BTW, I’m not calling you ignorant I’m just stating that you are very biased(based on youre comments you are).

        Happy Holidays, Anti.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        1 game away is not always 1 game away if the two teams are far apart. For example, if you lose in the NFC championship game 62-7 you weren’t simply 1 game away from the Super Bowl. And you better hope you don’t see that team again in the playoffs next year – and if you do see them you better how that they lost their best players.

        I’m not being biased. Unlike you I’m just appreciating the rarity and greatness of LeBron and his team and understanding that the Pacers, with their mediocre roster, do not have the ability or personnel to match that.

      • bougin89 - Jan 27, 2014 at 8:49 AM

        I appreciate Lebron as the best player in the league. Like most small market fans I didn’t think it was cool that he teamed up with Wade and Bosh for years to all go to Miami. He was in his hometown state. He has Ohio pride. If he would have delivered a championship to Cleveland he would have been much more appreciated, especially by the fans of small market teams everywhere, like nobody before him. That’s something a bandwagon fan(like you) could never appreciate.

        You’re one of, if not the most, biased commenters on this site.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 27, 2014 at 3:45 PM

        Here’s what you’re not appreciating: Imagine you’re LeBron and you’re in Cleveland and you’re examining the track record of management and ownership. Drafts? Terrible. Free agency? Mediocre at best. Coaching? Mike Brown, enough said.

        Ideally, obviously he would’ve wanted to stay in Cleveland IF IT LOOKED LIKE THERE WAS ANY HOPE FOR THAT FRANCHISE BEING RUN BY THOSE PEOPLE.

        The simple fact is that the Cavs franchise deserved to be fired by LeBron as they weren’t doing their jobs well enough.

        So what you’re actually saying – in the real world – is that LeBron should stayed in Cleveland under the poor coach/GM/owner combo and rotted.

        James did the right thing, obviously – the proof is in the pudding. He did the job the Cavs could not do and surrounded himself with viable championship caliber talent – this is the job that Jerry West/Kupchak did for Kobe and Krause did for MJ. LeBron never had that type of expertise in management though so he had to do it himself.

      • bougin89 - Jan 27, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        I never alluded to Danny Ferry being a good GM or liking Mike Brown.

        I alluded to the fact of how Lebron and Wade and Bosh went about it.

        As for Cleveland Dan Gilbert was willing to spend the $$ but Ferry overpaying for Hughes, then having to take on Ben Wallace’s contract for him. Acquiring Shaq one year too late. Even taking on Jamison’s contract to make an extra push all seemed like OK deals if you thought they were one role player away but all of those deals backfired. In the end the Cavs had the parameters in place to acquire Bosh in a sign and trade. They would have been able to give up more than what the Heat gave the Raptors. The Cavs were a good team(obviously mainly because of Lebron) but they were one legitimate scorer away it seemed like, and they just couldn’t acquire ‘that guy’ before Lebron left. The offseason of ‘the decision’ it was already too late. Lebron was already gone.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:55 AM

        Shaq and Jamison were probably the last straw – both were terrible ideas which I absolutely hated at the time. But it just goes to show you how poorly that franchise was being run. And Anthony Parker? Seriously!?

  5. crush22 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Can’t wait to see Bosh and Battier flop around litle little rag dolls tonight.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      Bro: anyone with 22 in their username’s alright.

  6. bballhistorian - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Miami is taking a page out of Coach Pop and the Spurs’ playbook from last season. Rest key stars in key games…don’t come full force until their last matchup/playoffs. Cant blame them.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      No, LeBron is playing. They don’t take games off when they’re at full health like the Spurs do. That’s beneath them.

      • asimonetti88 - Dec 18, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        “beneath them”

        Seems to have worked pretty well for the Spurs, with 4 championships and 5 Western Conference titles. Miami would be so lucky to “lower their expectations” as such.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:37 PM

        The Spurs didn’t become world famous for this until after their 4 championships as everyone got older. And they haven’t won a thing since. In my opinion, it’s not a coincidence. I’ve said it before – it sends a subliminal message to his players that certain losses are acceptable. “Kick back and relax, Timmy, this game doesn’t really matter.”

        That has a cumulative effect when it happens over and over and over. Winning starts to not become the only thing. In my opinion, it leads to choking in the playoffs when the pressure is turned up. Hunger and drive is a perishable attribute in sports – you have to keep working to maintain it during the season. But the Spurs take Duncan’s and Parker’s and Ginobili’s desire for granted – assuming high levels of it will always be on tap.

        The 90’s Bulls – they took zero games off – that is more the mentality of LeBron and the Heat.

      • bougin89 - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:51 AM

        Did you say that Wade was “healthy and lighter” on this site? Haven’t the Heat been resting him on back to backs and other games to keep him fresh for the playoffs? You’re contradicting yourself to attempt to make the team you’re a bandwagon fan of look better which goes back to the same point I’ve always had about your comments. You’re extremely biased and unobjective.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        Wade was healthy when I said that. He is lighter regardless. They started resting him after he banged his knee again some weeks back. S–t happens.

        There is no contradiction. If Wade is feeling good, he’s playing. But sometimes he plays when he doesn’t feel great – just like LeBron yesterday.

        Neither miss early or mid-season games when they feel fine.

        I’m being completely objective.

      • bougin89 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:34 AM

        “I’m being completely objective.”

        Except in your comments.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        Hey, just because you don’t like what I’m saying doesn’t mean I’m not being objective.

        It’s only December and yesterday the Spurs scratched healthy stars. The Heatles have never done that. There is no other way to describe what I’m talking about more accurately.

      • bougin89 - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        Saying you’re objective doesn’t make you objective.

        Actually it’s quite the opposite, you’re one of the least objective and one of the most biased of all the “regulars” that post on this site.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        I hear this notion about my perceived bias often, but I am unmoved by it. Let me explain to you what’s going on here:

        It’s as if I was a Jordan fan in 1990 talking about Jordan being the greatest player of all time and people calling me a troll for it (which actually happened, by the way). You would’ve said then that I’m not being objective – I would’ve said that you’re only blind to the obvious, but that you’ll come around eventually.

        Being cautious doesn’t mean you’re being objective – if you already understand the veraciousness then objectivity is going to be that at any point, even if it runs counter to popular opinion. So 10 years from now you may come to see that nothing that I’ve said is inaccurate. You might say to yourself at that point, “well I thought that antistratfordian guy was just a biased LeBron James homer – but it really was truth that he was after, not just wild and fanciful LeBron promotion, and he was absolutely right in the end.”

      • bougin89 - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

        Haha. Saying Lebron is the best player in this generation and maybe the best player of all time doesn’t mean you are right about anything. It means you are stating the obvious. I’ve never disagreed that Lebron is the best player. That’s not why you sound so biased it’s all the other comments you make praising the Heat at every turn and being an apologist for anything that comes across as something against the Heat. That makes you biased.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 23, 2013 at 3:58 PM

        I don’t say “maybe he is the best of all time” – he is the best of all time. He has been since 2009. That’s where I’ve been coming from. Only now, in 2013, are you comfortable saying “you are stating the obvious.” But, trust me, there was nothing obvious about it in 2009.

        I praise the Heat because the Heat deserve to be praised. That’s the only reason. If they didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t praise them.

      • bougin89 - Dec 23, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        You were the only person in 2009 to say Lebron was the best player of this generation/ever? At that point you wouldn’t have been an original you would have been late to the party.

        Lebron was the biggest “can’t miss” prospect ever or at least since Lew Alcindor. Before he was drafted all the talk was not IF but WHEN he would be the most dominant player in the league. It happened sooner rather than later.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:08 PM

        There was no party, guy. I was the party.

      • bougin89 - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:22 AM

        If you actually believe that(maybe you’re being sarcastic) then I suggest you acquire smarter friends.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        You’re trying to convince people that there was a large movement in 2008-09 saying that LeBron James was better than Michael Jordan and the greatest of all time? James hadn’t even won an MVP yet, let alone anything else. That movement didn’t exist then, guy. At that point the question was still about LeBron vs Kobe. Jerry West said in 2009 that he thought LeBron surpassed Kobe as a player – but no one was going farther than that saying he was the GOAT. The farthest anyone would go was, “he has the POTENTIAL to be the greatest.” I’ve been monitoring the progression of this for years and it just wasn’t happening at that time.

        Oscar Robertson didn’t have his quote about LeBron-Jordan until late 2010. That was the first time a name person went on national television and was even remotely definitive about the concept – unless you count David Stern. But then Stern’s job is to promote the league so I don’t know if anyone took him seriously. And even then Stern only said, “he may be the best player to ever play, let’s see, Michael might dispute that, but he’s got a lot of canvas yet on which to paint.”

        Most people now aren’t even willing to take it as far as GOAT – they’re still hesitant – his biggest public supporters are only saying Top 10. So even right now, today, it’s not that popular of an idea.

        I think for people looking back from 2023 one will still come off as an early adopter if you were to jump on board the LeBron-James-Is-The-GOAT train in 2013. We’re still a few years away from it being widely accepted as self evident.

      • bougin89 - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        No, I was saying people(even before 2009) were saying at some point Lebron will go down as the greatest player ever because of his skillset, size, and athleticism. Because their were a lot of people saying he would. If he never wins another ring (which is not likely) anyone could still make a very good argument he is the best basketball player ever but you would also be right to argue MJ had a better legacy/more dominant career because of his 6 rings. The book on Lebron isn’t finished and of course any GOAT argument is based on opinion.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        Yeah, obviously everyone talked about his potential to be the greatest – even Jordan said that some years ago. That’s the safe thing to do. People are still doing it today.

        That’s not what I’ve been saying though.

      • bougin89 - Jan 20, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        People were saying he had(not could have) the greatest combination of size, athleticism/strength, skillset ever. You must have missed all of the combination of Magic and MJ talk.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 20, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        There’s a big gap between that and saying someone is the best player who ever lived. Critics were fine with praising his physical attributes and potential – they actually had no choice but to do that because it was too obvious – but they knew they could always seek shelter behind, well, ring count… and if he never won he could easily be dismissed.

        For me, even if LeBron never won, he would still be the greatest player who ever lived. And actually, the more I think about it, the gap between LeBron and the next greatest player is fairly large.

      • bougin89 - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        You have the right to have that opinion.

  7. dexterismyhero - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    When these two teams meet in the playoffs they both will be very different teams — Indiana likely will have Granger back (or whomever they trade him for) and the Heat will have several players in the lineup.

    Nice speculation. How do you know both teams will be healthy come playoff time?

  8. 22yearsagotoday - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Hibbert’s a throwback to the days of big, dominating centers. Miami really has no direct answer for him, but Indiana cannot answer LeBron. This game’s going to come down to intangibles. Must watch, indeed!

    • antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      Hibbert is a throwback to Andrew Bynum, except he’s worse than Andrew Bynum.

      Miami has an answer for Hibbert. It’s the same answer they have for every 7 foot center they encounter.

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