The third seed Indiana Pacers come into tonight’s opening game of their 2013 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals with the top seed Miami Heat feeling as if they can pull off the major upset and advance to the final round. Thus far they have played like champions through the first two rounds, but find themselves staring at an opponent with far more playoff experience, much like the Grizzlies have in their Conference Finals series with the Spurs.
The Pacers lost to the Heat in the second round of last year’s NBA Playoffs so they’re no stranger to Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They are relative newcomers to the Conference Finals, though, as this group has never advanced this far. The Pacers haven’t been true contenders since the Reggie Miller days so it’s been a long time coming.
Heading into tonight’s first game with the Heat, Pacers forward David West is nursing an injury to his lower right leg. It’s not enough to keep him out of the game but could become an issue as the game wears on. Roy Hibbert is also a little dinged up on his thumb after getting hit there in practice a couple days ago.
The Heat have become fixtures in the Eastern Conference Finals with their core players participating in the third round for the third straight year. Wade and Lebron both participated in years prior as well. They know what it takes to win and are hoping that experience helps them get by a hot Pacers team that made short work of Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.
Dwayne Wade was not playing at 100 percent in the previous series and still isn’t full healed from a bruised right knee. He will be playing, though, but his minutes could be limited. One little additional tweak to Wade’s knee could potentially shift the tide in the series. You can bet Paul George and the Pacers will be coming at Wade and the Heat hard tonight, especially on the glass.
Tonight’s opening game of the NBA 2013 Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals featuring the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat tips off at 8:30/7:30c in high definition (HD) exclusively on TNT. Those with cable or satellite service subscriptions including TNT in their package have the option of watching a free online live streaming version of Game 1 in Miami here at TNT Overtime via a mobile phone, iPad, laptop or other Internet able device. The Heat are a little more dinged up than the Pacers and I like to pick an underdog who has a chance, so my prediction is for the Pacers to squeak by with an 87-84 victory to steal home court advantage.