The Heat now knows who will it play in the Eastern Conference finals, and it knows that opponent quite well.
The Heat and Indiana Pacers have met nine times in the past 13 months. Miami rallied from a 2-1 series deficit to beat the Pacers in six games in last years conference semifinals, with Chris Bosh playing only 16 minutes in that series because of an injury.
The Pacers beat the Heat in the two games in Indianapolis this season: 87-77 on Jan. 8 (behind 29 points from Paul George) and 102-89 on Feb. 1 (behind David Wests 30 points). That was the Heats last loss before a 27-game winning streak that ended March 27 in Chicago.
The Heat won the one meeting in Miami this season: 105-91 on March 10.
Indiana out-rebounded the Heat by 11 rebounds per game in the three games the teams played this season but had only a seven rebound edge in last seasons playoff series despite Boshs absence for most of it. The Pacers led the league in rebounds this season, while the Heat was last.
Indiana is a bigger team, classic style basketball, Bosh said. Theyre going to want to just throw it up off the backboard and go get it. Game 1 is at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Miami.
Dwyane Wade said the extended time off before the Eastern Conference finals will not necessarily help his bruised right knee.
I had 10 days off last time, he said of missing Miamis Game 4 win against Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs. It really doesnt matter.
The Heat had Saturday off but will resume practice Sunday.
Ive got to practice with it and play with it so I can know how I feel, Wade said. Im mentally strong enough to be able to still be effective. Im going to continue to play until my body says, All right. Youve got to go.
THIS AND THAT
Though the Heat lost Game 1 to the Bulls after a week-long layoff, Wade said theres nothing the Heat can do differently with another lengthy break.
I think physically we did everything we could last time, he said. We practiced hard, we prepared. Its nothing you can do to prepare for game action.
We hope to come out with a different approach.
• Asked what goes through his mind when hes on a fast break now, LeBron James said: Somebodys about to come foul me.
Then, in a clear reference to Nate Robinsons foul on him in Game 5 of the Bulls series, James added: They dont let me even get past half court these days. They just come and punch me in the face, and its a common foul.
• James said theres still another level the Heat could reach. Thats the best thing about our team. We dont dwell on the things we do well. We hate the things we did bad and try to get better. We will continue to rise to the occasion.
• Teammates are amused by Chris Andersens rising popularity in South Florida.
Hes a character of his own, James said. Anytime you have people off the floor who want to look like you, dress like you, have a haircut like you, means you have a great personality and a swag about you.
Its pretty cool.