Pacers, Heat renew rivalry

( – When the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat tangled in recent
seasons, it was required viewing.

One summer made the matchup a little less appealing, but the two squads will
duke it out Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in South Beach.

These two met in the Eastern Conference Finals the last two seasons and the
series were entertaining.

Everything changed this offseason.

LeBron James left the Heat to try and save the city of Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pat Riley and the Heat brass replaced him as best they could and the results
have been solid. Miami is tied for the lead in the Southeast Division.

The Pacers lost Lance Stephenson, a skilled play-maker, premiere defender and
master agitator. Then, Paul George’s horrific leg injury with USA Basketball
left the Pacers in shambles.

“That’s the nature of pro sports right now, is teams turn over very quickly,
much more rapidly than it was 15, 20 years ago, certainly,” Heat coach Erik
Spoelstra told the Sun Sentinel. “And you have to be able to adapt the best
that you can in this business. So both teams look quite a bit different than
they did in the Eastern Conference finals last year.”

The Heat have won two in a row after a pair of losses. The four-time reigning
Eastern Conference champs dispatched the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on
Friday, then earned a terrific victory Saturday night.

Miami beat the Dallas Mavericks in Big D, 105-96.

Luol Deng turned in his best game as a member of the Miami Heat, scoring 30
points. Deng’s previous high this season was 18, but he filled it up against
the Mavs as Miami’s new Big Three all contributed to the victory.

Dwyane Wade supplied 20 points with 10 assists and Chris Bosh posted 20 points
and 10 rebounds for the Heat.

“We wanted to come up with a much tougher mindset to make plays and keep our
head in the game collectively and just find a way to close out the game,” said
Spoelstra. “The ball was moving and it was encouraging to see.”

The Pacers halted a six-game losing streak with a 97-86 home victory over the
Utah Jazz on Monday night.

Roy Hibbert scored a season-high 29 points two days after leaving a game with
an injured knee. Hibbert scored 11 of his 29 points in the first quarter after
suffering a knee bruise in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against

A.J. Price scored 22 points off the bench four days after the banged-up Pacers
signed him to bolster their depleted backcourt.

Price, who played his first three NBA seasons with the Pacers from 2009-12,
made two 3-pointers during a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that turned a
three-point deficit into an eight-point lead.

“He obviously gave us a big-time lift tonight,” said Pacers Frank Vogel, who
expects the team to re-sign Price when his 10-day contract is up as long as
the team still needs bodies.

Solomon Hill added 13 points and Lavoy Allen scored 12 with a game-high 15
rebounds off the bench.

The Pacers, who avoided what would have been their longest losing streak in
five years, are still without David West, George Hill, CJ Watson and Rodney
Stuckey. CJ Miles missed the last two with a migraine.

The home team has won the last nine regular-season meetings between these two.
Indiana has lost six in a row and is 2-13 in its last 15 regular-season
matchups down in South Beach.