Basketball / Sports

NBA playoff preview: Pacers vs. Heat

A look at how Indiana and Miami match up in the Eastern Conference finals.

1. Indiana

56-26 (Home: 35-6; Road: 21-20)

2. Miami 54-28 (Home: 32-9; Road: 22-19) Season series: Tied, 2-2.

Key stat: The Pacers worked all season to secure home-court advantage for a potential matchup against the Heat but have gone only 3-4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the playoffs.

Outlook: This was the conference finals matchup nearly everyone envisioned in October until the events of April and May quickly changed perceptions. Indiana needed seven games to beat eighth-seeded Atlanta in a breathless first-round series while Pacers center Roy Hibbert became the most invisible 7-foot-2 player in NBA playoffs history. He finally re-emerged after another clunker in the series opener against Washington and has averaged 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds over his last five games after averaging 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds over his previous eight games. The first two rounds were a Biscayne Bay breeze for Miami, as expected, with the Heat winning eight of nine games. Dwyane Wade's balky hamstring held up just fine during a 28-point performance Wednesday in the series-clinching victory over Brooklyn.

Prediction: The Pacers' Hollywood-style drama takes a "Hoosiers" turn in a dramatic upset of the two-time defending champions. Pacers in seven.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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