A trio of observations from the Indiana Pacers’ 81-75 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Size rules for Pacers
Past versions of this match-up have come down to Size versus Speed. Miami ran a pace-and-space system centered around LeBron James, three-point shooters, and slashers. They still have some similar characteristics to their roster and offense. Their point guards are more involved now in ball-handling duties and Dwyane Wade takes on a bigger load. The Pacers challenged this with size over the past couple of years. That didn’t change on Wednesday.
Indiana pulled in 16 offensive rebounds which led to 19 second chance points. Outside of the Heat struggling from the field in the second half, the Pacers’ work on the glass is what won them this game. Four Pacers had at least two offensive rebounds, including Solomon Hill with five. The final rebounding numbers: Pacers 53, Heat 28.
Roy Hibbert scored 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting, knocking down multiple sweeping hook shots over the smaller Miami front line. Hibbert’s success with the hook shot early on this season shows his work with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar over the off-season is paying off. He also grabbed 15 boards.
Hill gets taken to school by Wade
First of all, Solomon Hill didn’t have a bad night defending Dwyane Wade. Wade finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting — a solid night, but nothing special, although he was the game’s leading scorer.
But he was Miami’s most potent threat on the offensive end. Wade took Hill down to the block multiple times and Hill had little to offer in terms of resistance. Wade was able to get position where he wanted on the offensive end for the most part, too, despite Hill having the size advantage.
It’s one of those nights where Hill getting beat by the top scorers in the NBA could turn out to be a good thing in the long run. He’ll be picking up the team’s best perimeter threat in most games this season and he’ll surely take his hits. Consider this another part of Hill’s development.
Great Indiana defense or bad Miami offense?
From the outside, giving up 75 points to Miami in four quarters seems like an impressive feat. Even without James, they still feature plenty of offensive juice and a well designed system predicated on quick perimeter ball movement. Miami was fresh off an offensive clinic against the Dallas Mavericks as well.
However, Miami missed 10 of their 18 free-throw attempts while hitting nearly half of their 20 attempts from 3 (nine). Shawne Williams, Miami’s newest stretch power forward, was 4-of-5 from deep, showing the Pacers still have issues defending bigs that can shoot from the perimeter. Overall, Miami shot 42 percent from the field.
Chris Bosh, who was just 3-of-13 for nine points in 33 minutes, pointed to Miami’s lack of ball movement and the free throws missed for reasons why the Heat played as poorly as they did.
The Pacers’ defense certainly played their part in Miami’s struggles, but it was likely a mixture of that and just a lazy overall game for the Heat.
Nevertheless, it’s a win for the Pacers. And those aren’t easy to come by lately.