Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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Preview: Heat At Pacers

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[March 26, 2014]  The Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat have not spent a lot of time playing like championship contenders over the last month. The teams are still the class of the Eastern Conference, however, and the Heat will look to knock another game off their deficit when they visit the Pacers on Wednesday. Indiana comes in having lost two straight while Miami managed to pick up a victory on Monday to get its deficit in the East down to two games.

The Heat's 93-91 home win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday was just their fifth in the last 12 games and came only after squandering a 17-point fourth-quarter advantage. The Pacers have been unable to take advantage of Miami's rough stretch due to its own record of 5-7 in the last 12, and a loss on Wednesday would draw Indiana even with the Heat in the loss column. All but one of those last seven setbacks have come on the road for the Pacers, who are 32-4 in their own building — including a win over Miami.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Sun Sports (Miami), FSN Indiana

ABOUT THE HEAT (48-21): Center Chris Bosh understands that Miami is stepping into a rabid atmosphere as it tries to chase down the Pacers for the top spot. “It's coming down to a photo finish,” Bosh told reporters. “We have a unique opportunity. No matter what's happened this whole season, we're within striking distance. It's here and it'll be a great playoff atmosphere. I can't wait.” The Heat are expecting guard Dwyane Wade (Achilles' tendon) to return to action after sitting out Monday's contest.

ABOUT THE PACERS (51-20): Paul George scored 21 points in Monday's loss to the Chicago Bulls but he shot below 40 percent for the fifth straight game. George is just 21-of-76 during his shooting slump — a porous 27.6 percent — and is shooting just 37.7 percent in March. Getting George back on his game will be a focus down the stretch but there is also a concern that the All-Star forward is wearing down. His 18.9 scoring average in March is easily his lowest of the season.

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  1. The teams split two December meetings, with the home team winning on each occasion.

  2. Heat F LeBron James averaged 20.5 points on 14-of-30 shooting in the two contests against the Pacers.

  3. C Roy Hibbert has just seven total points and five rebounds over Indiana's last two games.

PREDICTION: Heat 104, Pacers 101

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