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How important is Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat? From the historical perspective, it’s very important.
Best-of-seven series in which the first two games were split have been won by the Game 3 winner 77 percent of the time (143 out of 187). It would seem to be even more critical for the Pacers than the Heat. If the visiting team wins Game 3 in a 1-1 series, that team has gone on to win the series 83 percent of the time. When the home team wins Game 3 in this scenario, it wins the series 71 percent of the time (74 of 104).
Whatever the outcome of Game 3, expect it to be low-scoring. Both teams have held their opponents to fewer than 100 points in each game this postseason. In fact, the Heat are first (82.6) and the Pacers are tied for second (84.1) in scoring defense this postseason.
The Heat are coming off a Game 2 loss that saw them score fewer than 75 points in a playoff game for the first time since 2009, and that probably had something to do with their failure to convert in transition.
In Game 2, Miami was outscored by Indiana in transition, 16-10. The Heat are 0-2 this postseason when they are outscored in transition. Miami also shot a postseason-low 22.2 percent (2-9) in transition, including 0-for-3 by Dwyane Wade.
1 Possession Game, 1 Minute Left
4th Quarter and OT, Heat This Season
Also in Game 2, LeBron James missed two free throws with 54 seconds left and the Heat trailing by one point. This season (including playoffs), James now is 10-17 on free throws in one-possession games in the fourth quarter or overtime with one minute or less remaining. The rest of the Heat are a combined 13-for-15.
Miami’s troubles in transition could have been offset by a more effective half-court game, but the Heat have struggled in that facet of the game so far in this series.
After shooting 44 percent against the Knicks in the first round, Miami is hitting just 38 percent of its shots in the half court against Indiana. And the Heat’s match-up along the front line -- already a statistical advantage for the Pacers -- has been tipped even more Indiana’s way by the injury to Chris Bosh.
Of the eight teams left in the playoffs, Indiana owns the second-highest scoring starting front court (45.3 points per game). Only the Boston Celtics receive more scoring production from their front-court starters.
The Pacers have outrebounded their opponents 322-277 this postseason. Their +6.4 postseason rebound difference is the highest among the remaining teams in the postseason.
Roy Hibbert has been a force inside for the Pacers, averaging 11.4 points and 10.9 rebounds this postseason. David West is averaging 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds, making them the only teammates averaging a double-double this postseason. Hibbert is also second in blocks this postseason averaging 3.29 per game (Andrew Bynum, 3.40).