NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, December 18th
(All times Eastern)
Indiana Pacers (20-4) at Miami Heat (18-6), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Just one week removed from the biggest regular-season
game of the season, the rematch between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat
heads to South Beach Wednesday, but possibly without a major star.
LeBron James tweaked his left ankle in Monday's easy victory over the Utah
Jazz. He did not practice on Tuesday and his status for Wednesday is
"Very stiff, very sore," James said after practice on Tuesday. "I'm going to
be around-the-clock treatment. We'll go from there. It' doesn't matter if it's
the Pacers or not. We're a long-term team and I'm a long-term player."
It would be a disappointment to not just Miami fans, but NBA fans if James
isn't able to go on Wednesday.
The two teams, who engaged in an epic seven-game battle for the Eastern
Conference title last season, met last Tuesday in Indianapolis. The Pacers
came out on top, 90-84, after a spectacular second-half surge.
Indiana outscored the Heat by 13 over the final 24 minutes to secure the
victory. Once again, as was the case in Miami's successful run to another NBA
championship last season, Roy Hibbert posed a huge problem for the Heat.
Hibbert was Indiana's leading scorer with 24 points, but he also grabbed six
rebounds and handed out five assists. He shot 10-for-15 from the floor and
helped hold the Heat to a shade under 43 percent shooting from the field.
Indiana's other big man, David West, finished with 17 points and nine boards
against the Heat.
"Those guys are a huge problem," James acknowledged.
James had 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists against the Pacers.
The Heat thrashed the Utah Jazz, 117-94, on Monday. They've won two straight
and four of five, with the only loss during that span coming in Indiana.
Wednesday night will be the third of a five-game homestand and Miami is 11-2
at home this season.
The Pacers lost their first home contest of the season on Monday when the
Detroit Pistons topped them, 101-96. The Pistons are one of two teams to
beat Miami in South Beach as well.
Both teams shot identical 43.2 percent from the floor and committed only eight
turnovers apiece. Josh Smith of Detroit was the difference with 30 points,
followed by 13 and 12 boards from Greg Monroe.
"We didn't compete tonight," said West. "We didn't come ready to play. They
were more aggressive and took advantage of our errors."
Lance Stephenson paced the Pacers with a career-high 23 points, seven rebounds
and six assists. Paul George tallied 17 points with nine rebounds and Luis
Scola scored 18 off the bench.
The Pacers lost their last road game, a 118-94 setback to the Oklahoma City
Thunder at the end of a brutal road trip.
Indiana has won four of the last five regular-season matchups, but has dropped
four straight in Miami and eight of nine.
12/18 10:22:03 ET