NBA preview: Heat vs. Pacers, Spurs vs. Clippers

Daniel Romero-Salas

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A breakdown of the Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs vs. LA Clippers match-ups

MANILA, Philippines – This is Part 2 of Rappler’s playoffs preview. Rappler breaks down the match-ups and gives you a comprehensive take on the 2nd round playoffs.

Here’s all you need to know about the Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers, and the San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers match-ups.

For the breakdown of Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers, and the Oklahoma Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers, click here.


Season series: 3-1 Miami

The big 3 of Miami recently suffered a big blow when Chris Bosh was injured in game 1 with an abdominal strain. Bosh provides important spacing for Miami on the offensive end and is the joint top rebounder on the team with 7.9 a game this season. Indiana will be hoping that his absence will allow Roy Hibbert and especially David West to dominate inside in order to win the series.  

Point Guard: George Hill was recently promoted as the starter and has been averaging 13.5 points per game against the Magic but will now be facing a more dangerous defensive team in the Heat. Mario Chalmers has the 3rd most steals on the team this post season and has hit the 2nd most three pointers. He doesn’t create much off the dribble but he provides spacing and tough defense at the position.

Rappler says: Even

Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade has already gotten the better of young Paul George in the first game of the series. George fouled out in 26 minutes and only hit 1 field goal. George impressed last year guarding Derrick Rose in the first round but will have his hands full with Wade. The Heat shooting guard is excellent at making quick dives to the rim when he doesn’t have the ball and George will have to be aware of him at all times.

Rappler says: Advantage Heat

Small Forward: The newly crowned MVP Lebron James will be guarding the Pacers leading scorer Danny Granger. Granger has struggled this season against James’ defense averaging 5 points less a game and shooting only 34% from the field.  Granger was already struggling from the field in the previous series shooting 38% and if he cannot find the range soon the Pacers could be out of the playoffs right away.

Rappler says: Advantage Heat

Power Forward: David West will be breathing a sigh of relief with Bosh’s injury, in 4 games this season West has shot 35% against Bosh and the Heat. While Danny Granger is the team’s leading scorer, he will be matched up with the MVP Lebron James and his scoring will probably dip. West is probably more important to the Indiana offense than Granger because of his ability to pick and pop off screens. Heat defense usually tries to trap off pick and rolls and by popping out West provides an outlet for the guards. Miami responded to this by re-trapping West after the initial pass discombobulating the Pacer’s offense. With Bosh injured, West will have to adjust to the defensive scheme and find open teammates.

Rappler says: Advantage Indiana (depending on the extent of Bosh’s left abdominal strain)

Center: Roy Hibbert (at 7’2”) towers over Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf (None of whom are taller than 6’9”) and has a polished offensive repertoire down low. Defensively he can play off any of those players because they are offensive non-entities. The three Heat centers average a combined 8.3 points per game in the playoffs. Hibbert will have to provide rim protection against the high flying Lebron James and Dwyane Wade.

Rappler says: Advantage Indiana

Bench: Former starter Darren Collison will lead the bench unit of Indiana. They are versatile with the speedy Leandro Barbosa (former 6th man of the year in 06-07) or tough with “Psycho T” Tyler Hansbrough. Mike Miller for the Heat is a deadeye three point shooter who has hit the most three pointers for the team during the playoffs. His shooting provides driving lanes for Wade and Lebron and is quite a solid rebounder for his position.

Rappler says: Advantage Indiana

The Pacers have no answer for Lebron and Wade. While they are deeper, they struggle passing the ball (have the lowest assist percentage of the remaining playoff teams) which is the only way to beat Miami’s trapping defense.

Rappler says: Miami in 6


Season series: 2-1 San Antonio

San Antonio was able to sweep the Utah Jazz fairly quickly and watch the Los Angeles Clippers struggle with the feisty Memphis Grizzlies in 7 games. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were banged up in a physical series but were still able to move on to the next round. Paul’s health will play an immense role in the Clippers’ success.

Point Guard: Chris Paul and Tony Parker finished third and fifth respectively in the MVP balloting this year which sets up an intriguing matchup in this round.  Paul suffered a strained right hip flexor in the Memphis series and will need to be healthy to guard Tony Parker. The French point guard has been known to be a great inside scorer but this year he has averaged a career high 7.7 assists per game. Paul and Parker both control the game so cerebrally that it makes this matchup a basketball purist’s dream to watch.

Rappler says: Slight advantage Clippers

Shooting Guard: Danny Green and Randy Foye may not be the most well known players but they provide steady shooting and great defense. Both players have bounced around in their NBA careers but have seemingly found homes with these organizations. Green in particular was cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers last year and has gone on to play in 66 games this season.  

Rappler says: Advantage Even

Small Forward: Caron Butler has earned the nickname “Tuff Juice” this season because he is playing with a broken left hand. It may be affecting his shooting as his three point field goal percentage is only 20%. If he cannot hit shots his biggest contribution will have to be guarding the young Kawhi Leonard and perhaps some minutes defending Manu Ginobili. The rookie Leonard has fit in seamlessly with the Spurs as he is an excellent defender, offensive rebounder and fast becoming a dangerous shooter. In college he shot 29% from three point territory but with his hard work is up to 50% shooting from the corner three pointer.

Rappler says: Advantage San Antonio

Power Forward: Tim Duncan maybe getting older and is no longer the focal point of the Spurs but he still knows how to win in the playoffs. Griffin is playing in his first postseason and is hampered by a sprained left knee. Griffin’s game is dependent on his athleticism and Duncan will try to force him to shoot jump shots. Griffin shot 3.9 jumpers from 16-23 feet this season but was shooting at only 37%. He hurts his team when he doesn’t attack the rim.  

Rappler says: Advantage San Antonio

Center: Deandre Jordan has lost out a lot of minutes this post season to Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans, Jordan is only playing 21.6 minutes per game. He is a liability outside of the paint and from the free throw line forcing coach Vinny Del Negro to go with his veterans. He still provides great shot blocking but he needs to crash the offensive boards in order to maximize his playing time. Boris Diaw creates a matchup nightmare for Jordan because he plays like a guard, he can take the outside shot, pulling Jordan out from under the basket and away from his strengths. Diaw does give up a lot of size on the defensive end but if Jordan cannot take advantage of that the Spurs will be happy with that mismatch.

Rappler says: Even

Bench: The Spurs bench is one of the best in the league. Manu Ginobili has been afforded a lot of rest to recuperate and get back into shape. He is a dangerous player to guard and will be matched up with Nick Young or Bobby Simmons, neither of whom is known as a defender. Stephen Jackson also provides front court versatility for the Spurs and Matt Bonner, Dejuan Blair and Tiago Splitter will take turns trying to slow down Blake Griffin.  

Rappler says: Advantage San Antonio

The Spurs have the best offense in the postseason averaging 108.9 points per 100 possessions but also holds the best defense in the western conference keeping opponents to 91.0 points per 100 possessions. If they can keep the Clippers from getting offensive rebounds and prevent Chris Paul from taking over this series will be over quickly.

Rappler says: San Antonio Spurs in 5

Daniel Romero-Salas is a lifelong NBA fan with an inclination to statistical analysis of the game. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and strives to bring a refreshing take on one of the most popular leagues in the world. Follow him on Twitter: @danromerosalas

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