With 25 games left in the NBA season, two teams look like they have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the East. Right now the possible match-up between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers is drawing a lot of attention as of late. This match-up is becoming even more interesting because Danny Granger is returning from a knee injury, which makes this Pacers team even more dangerous. However with all of these things going right for the Pacers, the question still remains if they can dethrone the defending champion Miami Heat. Let’s look at the match-ups.
The Point Guards
The Point guard match-up between these two teams will take place between George Hill and Mario Chalmers. Right now Hill is averaging 14.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 4.9 APG while Chalmers averages 8.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 3.4 APG. Both players are good knock-down shooters but George is the better scorer and the creator for his team.
The Shooting Guards
This is the key match-up between the two squads. Paul George is the most interesting two-guard. His length at 6’8” makes him a very versatile defender, which could give Dwyane Wade a lot of problems. The key to beating the Miami Heat is not stopping Lebron James, but stopping Dwyane Wade. In the last meeting between the two teams, Wade was held to 17 points. If George was able to keep him in check, the Pacers would have a huge advantage in this series.
The Small Forwards
This match-up will take place between LeBron James and Danny Granger. Obviously James has the advantage in this match-up. Right now LeBron is playing a very high level of basketball that will most likely continue into the playoffs. In order for Danny Granger to have success in this match-up, he must a) shoot the ball well, and b) makes sure he chests LeBron up on every possession. Defending LeBron is not a job for just Danny Granger, he must also have help from his two physical rim protectors in David West and Roy Hibbert. If Granger is able to contain LeBron with help from his bigs, then they can hold LeBron in check.
This match-up is the second most important in this series. Whoever is able to own the glass and protect the rim will be the most successful. This fits right into the physical nature of this Pacer team. The Pacers have two very physical bigs in Roy Hibbert and David West who are both good rebounders and rim protectors. The Miami Heat will need Chris Bosh and Chris “Birdman” Andersen to go out and be just as physical. If the bigs of the Heat are pushed around by the bigs of the Pacers then Miami’s offense will suffer and the Pacers will be able to gain extra possessions by crashing the offensive glass.
X-Factor off the Bench
Two bench players that could play a big role off the bench in this match-up would be Ray Allen and Lance Stephenson. Ray Allen’s elite three-point shooting provides the Heat with an extra dimension that they did not have during last year’s playoff run. His ability to stretch the floor will help free up the Heat on the offensive end. On the other side you have Lance Stephenson. Stephenson has been the beneficiary of the Danny Granger injury, starting 49 games this year. This experience will help the 22-year-old be a factor in these playoffs. If Stephenson is able to be efficient on the offensive end, and play good perimeter defense, then he could be a huge factor for the Pacers.
The Pacers have the ability to beat the Miami Heat in a seven-game series. The two biggest reasons are the physicality of their bigs and the versatility of Paul George. Most importantly, if Paul George is able to shut down Dwyane Wade, then the Pacers will have a very good chance to beat the Heat.