Saturday, March 9, 2013
3-on-3 Preview: Pacers at Heat
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireIn another installment of the Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes on the storylines before the Heat face the Pacers on Sunday (6 p.m. ET).
Dwyane Wade and the Heat must get by Paul George and the Pacers to earn an 18th straight win.
1. The Pacers are the biggest threat to the Heat’s repeat bid.
Tom Haberstroh: Fiction. In the East? Probably. But the Thunder, the Grizzlies, the Clippers and the Spurs would probably give the Heat more trouble than the Pacers. The Pacers defense might be the stingiest of the group, but I'm skeptical of the offensive firepower.
Michael Wallace: Fiction. The Pacers are the second-biggest threat -- and only if they get reliable perimeter shooting. I believe a healthy Spurs team is the Heat's biggest potential threat. They have an efficient, attacking point guard, a big man who's effective on both ends and floor spacers who knock down threes. And I didn't even mention Gregg Popovich.
Brian Windhorst: Fiction. I think the Pacers play the Heat with more edge than any other team in the East. Yes, even more than the Celtics. There's genuine animosity there and it manifests itself in the games. That said, I just don't believe the Pacers are a bigger threat than the Spurs, Thunder or perhaps even the Clippers.
2. Fact or Fiction: Dwyane Wade is the best 2-guard in the NBA.
Haberstroh: Fiction. It's a toss-up between him, James Harden and Kobe Bryant, and my feelings change by the day. At this moment on Saturday afternoon, I'm giving it to Kobe but ask me on Sunday night. Wade has the top PER and defense, but he's not logging the near-40-minutes-a-night that the other two guys are. Impossible choice.
Wallace: Fiction. I have a default mechanism in my head that's set on Black Mamba status. It's been that way for years. Yes, all of the efficiency numbers and victory totals this season point in Wade's direction. In terms of overall impact on the game, we're essentially splitting hairs here. But Kobe gets the nod slightly, depending on the day of the week.
Windhorst: Fiction. This is a trap question to back into a Wade-Kobe debate. Wade's having a strong season. Wade has two rings. On some nights, I'd rather have Wade than Kobe. But I can't say Wade is the best.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Heat’s streak will still be intact after Sunday.
Haberstroh: Fact. This is the last obstacle that LeBron James has to conquer this regular season, and I'm learning not to doubt him at this point. He's shooting over 60 percent on this 17-gamer, which is outright baffling for a perimeter player.
Wallace: Fact. The regular-season series will end with the Pacers holding a 2-1 edge and both teams having held serve at home. What does that mean in the bigger picture going into the playoffs? Absolutely nothing. Regardless of Sunday's outcome, Indiana is confident it can beat the Heat. Miami is confident the Pacers haven't quite closed the gap.
Windhorst: Fact. While the Heat seemed blow off the significance of the Pacers' two wins in Indy, a mistake if you ask me, they are openly talking about how much this game means to them. This season when they Heat have locked on to an opponent they have usually played well. Especially at home.