Heat-Pacers: Game 3 Preview

The Eastern Conference Finals shift to Indiana, where Miami will try to regain home court advantage

The Miami Heat will have almost no time to lament their loss in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Indiana Pacers. Less than 48 hours after falling in the final minute to Indiana, Miami will try to regain home court advantage Sunday night at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

"We just stay even-keeled," LeBron James said. "We don't get too high, we don't get too low in the series. We know we're going to go into a hostile environment against a very good team, and we look forward to the challenge."

Miami was in a position to tie the game twice in the final minute Friday, but on both possessions James had passes deflected and stolen by David West of the Pacers.

"I am very disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch," James said. "But I'll make up for them."

"We're a growing and evolving team," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "I think our defense really won us the game for us. ... A lot of times teams just start buckling, and we've been through the wringer before. We're young guys, but we know what we're doing."

Hibbert himself has shown the greatest improvement. After struggling mightily on offense in the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Heat, he has average 24 points and 9.5 rebounds per game thus far in the series.

George Hill has shown a propensity to score in the clutch, and the entire starting unit has befuddled the Heat on offense at times.

"Take nothing away from their 'Big Three' and what they have going," George said, referring to James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh. "But we'll take a 'Big Five' any day. And that's what we have. We have a 'Big Five' where we have guys who can make plays and we don't lean on one guy. It's a team contribution and that's how we play the game."

But if the Pacers' young starting lineup is a strength, its bench leaves much to be desired. In Friday's game, all five starters had a positive plus/minus (which measures a team's point differential while a particular player is on the floor), while the subs all had negative plus/minuses.

The Heat were able to catch up in stretches on Friday night while Indiana rested starters. Miami must continue to make the most of those opportunities.

They can help themselves if the Heat's reserves do a better job of hitting their own shots. Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Norris Cole are shooting a combined 2 for 18 from three-point range during the series.

For all the challenges the Pacers have created for the Heat, Miami has been in a position to win in close situations in both games so far, winning one in overtime.

If the sharp-shooters start connecting, and if James, Wade, and Bosh continue to play at a high level (they combined for 66 points in Game 1 and 67 in Game 2), Miami might not find itself in such a tight situation at the end of Game 3.

Game 3 starts at 8:30pm ET, with coverage on TNT.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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