For the fifth time in NBA history, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat will compete in the playoffs as the fourth and fifth seed, respectively.
The Heat have won three of the four previous postseason meetings. How will it go down in the 2020 NBA Playoffs?
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- Game 1 - Tuesday, August 18 at 4:00 p.m.
- Game 2 - Thursday, August 20 at 1:00 p.m.
- Game 3 - Saturday, August 22 at 3:30 p.m.
- Game 4 - Monday, August 24 at 6:30 p.m.
- Game 5 (if necessary) - TBD
- Game 6 (if necessary) - TBD
- Game 7 (if necessary) - TBD
Result: Miami won 3-1
Best game: Dec. 27, 2019 - Heat 113, Pacers 112
Best performance: Jimmy Butler (Aug. 10, 2020) - 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals in 29 minutes
These two teams were among the few that played each other twice in the bubble.
Their most recent meeting came on the final game day of the seeding games schedule, one where the majority of the rotation players on both squads either didn't suit up or played limited minutes. One big takeaway from this game was Derrick Jones Jr.'s injury, as he was taken off in a stretcher following a collision. The Heat have since announced that he has a neck sprain and will be re-evaluated again over the weekend.
Games 2 and 3 of this season series were comfortable Miami wins.
Game 2, which came in early January, was when T.J. Warren and Jimmy Butler got into their scuffle, one that had the latter circling the Heat's next matchup with the Pacers. Despite the altercation and drama surrounding the duo, the Heat comfortably won this game, 122-108.
The third game was much of the same. Butler backed up his words by outplaying Warren, who was coming off a five-game hot streak in which he averaged 34.8 points. Despite shooting 5-of-13 from the field, Butler had a bigger impact while holding the on-fire Warren to just 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting. The Heat clinched this one, 114-92.
The only game that was competitive was the first one, back in December. The contest had 20 lead changes and eight ties and came down to the final possession.
Goran Dragic guides it in for the win! #HEATTwitter pic.twitter.com/wYPCAI2MF5- NBA (@NBA) December 28, 2019
Key Storyline: Can short-handed Pacers make this a series?
The Pacers will fight every game of this series but there's no denying how short-handed they are.
First and foremost, the Pacers will likely be without their All-Star in Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists on the season. Sabonis is "ruled out indefinitely" but the Pacers aren't ruling out a return to Orlando. Additionally, Jeremy Lamb is still rehabbing from his ACL injury and Warren is dealing with plantar fasciitis.
What's interesting about the Pacers is that they've had key players in their rotation miss significant time during the season with injuries, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo being the most prominent. Indiana's bench has had plenty of opportunities to step up, but how will its second unit hold up against a far healthier Heat squad? They'll need Aaron Holiday to continue his strong play from the seeding games and for Justin Holiday to regain his shooting touch.
The Heat, on the other hand, aren't short on depth. They have plenty of wings in Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro to go along with Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard in the frontcourt, as well as Rookie of the Year finalist Kendrick Nunn and one-time All-Star Goran Dragic at point.
Will Miami's depth be too much for Indiana to handle or will someone step up for the Pacers to make it a series?
Three Players to Watch
How bad is Warren's plantar fasciitis?
It's said to be "not serious" and something that the 6'8" forward had been experiencing issues with all season. He's likely going to play in the series, but how many minutes?
The offensive exhibition Warren put on in Indiana's seeding games drew a lot of attention in the bubble, and the Pacers will need similar production from him in the playoffs to push the Heat.
Butler is the best player in this series. He's finally found a franchise that thinks, plays and competes like him, leading to him seamlessly integrating himself into the famed "Heat culture" and becoming a leader on one of the Eastern Conference's best teams.
Expect Butler to be the most impactful players in this series, both offensively and defensively. You know he's going to take it personally with what happened between him and Warren this season.
Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo
Brogdon was solid in Indiana's seeding games, averaging 18.2 points, 6.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds. Oladipo was its third-leading scorer with 16.0 points, but he shot only 40.0 percent from the field.
Health provided, we know Warren is going to bring scoring. Can Brogdon and Oladipo provide another scoring punch while doing all of the little things the Pacers need to make this a series?
Picks and Predictions
Yash Matange: Heat in six
Scott Rafferty: Heat in five
Carlan Gay: Heat in five
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