How the Pacers can unseat the Heat

Despite being the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers enter their conference finals matchup with the Miami Heat as the underdog.

This is a Pacers team that split four head-to-head meetings with the Heat this season and took the Heat to seven games in the conference finals in 2013, but can they it over the hump and end the Heat’s reign this season?

Which Hibbert will show up?

In order to compete with the Heat, the Pacers will likely need Roy Hibbert to perform well.

Hibbert averaged 22.5 points per game in the Pacers’ two wins over Miami this season compared to just 5.5 points per game in their two losses.

Last postseason, Hibbert really stepped up. He averaged a team-leading 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals against the Heat.

But this postseason, he’s been rather inconsistent. Hibbert averaged 17.5 points per game in the Pacers’ four wins against the Washington Wizards in the conference semifinals compared to just 2.0 points per game on 22.2 percent shooting in the Pacers’ two losses.

Paul George versus LeBron

A key matchup in this series will be LeBron James against Paul George. Each superstar is likely to guard the other on most plays.

James averaged 28.8 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting in four games against the Pacers in the regular season. George averaged 21.8 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting in those games.

LeBron James by Pacers Defender
Past 2 Seasons (Including Playoffs)

George has not been able to slow down James over the past two seasons. James has shot 51.5 percent when defended by George, including 21-of-42 from 3-point range.

What makes James so effective against George?

Thirty-eight percent of James’ jumpers against George have been uncontested (23 percent against all other Pacers). James has made half of his uncontested attempts against George. James is also 9-of-10 from the field on cuts to the basket when guarded by George.

James is 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) when posting up against George. James is 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) on post-up plays against all other Pacers.

Lock down Bosh

In order to defeat the Heat, the Pacers will need to focus on stopping Chris Bosh.

Bosh leads the Heat with 17 3-pointers made this postseason. Nearly 36 percent of his shot attempts have been from 3-point range, a significant increase compared to the regular season (22.9 percent).

The Pacers did a solid job of containing Bosh in the regular season. He averaged just 11.3 points per game in four games against the Pacers this season, well below his season average of 16.2 points per game.

Both teams will look to get off to a good start in Game 1 on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC). The Pacers are 10-2 all time in best-of-seven series when leading 1-0. Meanwhile, the Heat are 10-2 in Game 1s at home in the James-Wade-Bosh era (since 2011 playoffs).