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5 Clear-Cut Reasons the Miami Heat Will Dominate the Indiana Pacers in the Playoffs
- Updated: August 17, 2020
The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers will square off in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
While the Pacers edged out Miami for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 109-92 victory on Friday, the Heat are still well-positioned to advance past the Pacers in the first round.
Miami has one of the most well-balanced offensive attacks in all of the NBA, giving it a huge edge on top-heavy teams that will be vying for the NBA title.
The Heat’s upcoming series against the Pacers will be much more than just the rivalry between Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren.
Here are five reasons why the Heat will dominate the Pacers in the first round:
1. Depth, Depth and Depth
The Miami Heat may be the deepest team in the NBA.
Miami finished the regular season with seven different players averaging over 11.8 points per game.
Led by Butler, who averages 19.9 points per game, the Heat have one of the most diverse offenses in the NBA.
The addition of Jae Crowder (11.9 points per game this season) at the trade deadline has made Miami even more dangerous. Crowder adds another shooter to a lethal Miami offense, as he is shooting a blistering 44.5 percent from 3-point range this season for the Heat.
Adding that firepower to a lineup that already includes long-range snipers like Duncan Robinson (44.6 percent from 3) and rookie Tyler Herro (38.9 percent from 3) allows for the Heat to take the offensive burden off of stars like Butler and Bam Adebayo (15.9 points per game this year).
Dragic has been huge off the bench for the Heat this season, averaging 16.2 points and 5.1 assists per game.
Nunn has struggled a bit with his shot in the bubble, but after leaving for an undisclosed reason, he returned Friday to score 23 points against Indiana.
The Heat don’t rely on one player to win games and it should benefit them all postseason long.
2. Game-Changing Star
While Miami certainly doesn’t rely on one player to win, it does have the best player in this series.
Butler, a five-time All-Star, is a game-changer on both ends of the floor. Not only does he lead Miami in points per game, but he also can facilitate the offense as he is averaging a team-high 6.0 assists per game.
Butler is also a tremendous defender, as evidenced by his 2.7 defensive win shares and 1.4 defensive box plus/minus this season.
Having a lockdown defender of Butler’s caliber will help Miami defend Warren and Victor Oladipo throughout the series.
In the playoffs, it is crucial to have a star player to make important plays down the stretch of games. The Toronto Raptors won the NBA title last season by riding Kawhi Leonard’s coattails at the end of games.
Miami can follow a similar blueprint to that this postseason. While the balanced attack and shooting around Butler is important, having a go-to guy at the end of games is extremely important as well.
There is no question that Butler is the highest profile player in this series. If he plays up to that title, Miami should roll.
3. If It’s Anything Like the Regular Season…
The Heat were 3-0 against the Pacers prior to Friday’s loss where they rested key players such as Butler, Dragic, Crowder and Adebayo.
Simply put, the Heat were the better team during the regular season. Will that carry over to the playoffs? One could hope, but regardless, Miami knows how to beat this Pacers team.
Between a 113-112 victory on Dec. 27, a 122-108 win on Jan. 8 and the 114-92 thrashing on Aug. 10, Miami has won different style games against this Indiana team.
The Pacers aren’t a slouch of an opponent by any means, but they haven’t quite figured out how to beat the Heat at full strength.
Miami’s offense is a big contributor to that, as it has a 111.9 offensive rating, good for seventh-best in the association.
Indiana, on the other hand, slots in at No. 19 in offensive rating. That, coupled with the fact that the Heat shoot the second-best percentage in the NBA from 3-point range at 37.9 percent, is a concern for the Pacers in this series.
If the Heat can control the pace of the game and force the Pacers to try to outscore them, it will work in their favor.
Indiana is a solid defensive team as it is sixth in defensive rating, but the Heat aren’t far behind at No. 12.
Until the Pacers prove they can beat the Heat at full strength, there is no reason to believe that they will.
4. Injury Concerns for Indiana
The Pacers have been without their best player, Oladipo, for much of the 2019-20 season.
While Oladipo returned in late January and did appear in six games in the NBA bubble, he may not be completely himself.
The two-time All-Star missed the Pacers win on Friday with an ankle issue.
Oladipo’s best game in the bubble came against the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting to lead the Pacers to a win.
However, against the Heat on Aug. 10, he scored just 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting. The Heat need to slow Oladipo down to win the series, but if he is nursing an ankle injury it should make that task a lot easier.
The bigger injury concern for Indiana comes with big man Domantas Sabonis.
A first-time All-Star this season, Sabonis is dealing with a foot injury and has not appeared in any games since the NBA restarted its season.
Without Sabonis, Indiana has to figure out a way to replace his massive production of 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game this season. That is a tall task.
In addition to Sabonis, it has been reported that Warren is dealing with a similar foot injury. With all three of these players banged up, Indiana will have to rely on its role players much more in the most important games of the season.
That’s a huge advantage for Miami.
5. Herro Has Been HOT
The X-factor for the Heat in this series may be rookie guard Tyler Herro. Since the NBA season resumed, the University of Kentucky product has been on fire.
Herro has scored 16 points or more in the final five games of the regular season, including a 30-point outburst against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also had 25 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Herro’s newfound playmaking ability has been a pleasant surprise for the Heat in the NBA bubble.
Having both Herro and Dragic’s scoring in bunches off the bench is a huge boost for Miami.
On Aug. 10, Herro torched the Pacers for 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He also has been much more efficient around the rim since the NBA season restarted.
Here's 1:42 of Bubble Herro finishing around the rim.
Tyler Herro At Rim
Pre-Restart: 39-80 (48.8%)
Post-Restart: 18-20 (90%)
Won't always look this good, but given the rest of his skillset it's a pretty big deal if he can eventually hover around 60-65% for a full season. pic.twitter.com/ndwbQqVSnG
— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) August 13, 2020
The Heat are already dangerous offensively and a hot-shooting Herro only makes them better.
While the Pacers certainly are worthy opponents, when Miami is clicking, it has the tools to dominate Indiana in a seven-game series.