NBA Game Preview at YouWager: Heat vs. Pacers

Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Tip-off: Friday, February 1, 2013 – 7:00 PM ET

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

The Miami Heat and LeBron James weren’t able to overcome the stifling defense of the Indiana Pacers when the teams faced each other in earlier this year. Tonight the Pacers will look to impress their YouWager fans with a third straight regular-season win over the visiting Heat when the Eastern Conference’s top defense meets its highest-scoring offense.

The only time Miami was held below 84 points all season came in an 87-77 defeat against Indiana on Jan. 8 as James tied a season high with seven turnovers — half of his team’s total for the game. The 28 year-old did have 22 points while Dwyane Wade scored 30 and Chris Bosh added 14, but their teammates combined to shoot 4 for 22 from the field.

The Heat (29-13) tops the NBA in field-goal shooting at 48.9 percent, ranks fourth in turnovers with 13.8 per game and averages an East-leading 102.7 points, though it has struggled against the defense-first philosophy of the Pacers in recent matchups.

Indiana, who lead the league in field-goal percentage defense (41.9) and the East in scoring defense (89.9), led last season’s second-round playoff series with Miami 2-1 before dropping three straight. The Pacers have held the Heat under 78 points each of the last three times they’ve beaten this NBA team, including that series.

Paul George had 29 points and 11 rebounds in the last game and played a key role in frustrating James for most of the contest.

Since George’s 2010-11 rookie season, Indiana is 4-1 against Miami when holding James to 25 points or fewer and 1-8 when they don’t. George, scoring a career-best 17.4 points per game, averaged only 10.0 and shot 36.5 percent in the playoff series when meeting the Heat.

The Pacers have won the last two regular-season matchups after dropping nine of 10, however they will have to contend with the Heat who have won five of six following a 105-85 win versus the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

Indiana (27-19) lost the final three of their four-game road trip before returning home to beat the Detroit Pistons 98-79 on Wednesday even while George hitting only 3 of his 11 shots and committing a season worst-tying six turnovers.