The Miami Heat try to improve to 2-0 when they visit the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. The contest is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouseis.
The Heat opened their season on Thursday night with a rout of the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, 137-95. Miami is looking to get back to the playoffs after a disappointing first-round loss to Milwaukee a season ago.
Indiana is looking for its first win after dropping its first two games. The Pacers are 0-2 after a 135-134 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
After a first-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks in last season’s playoffs, Miami was motivated to come out with a big game against Milwaukee on Thursday night. The Heat did it with defense, holding the Bucks to just 38.1% shooting from the floor, including 28.6% from 3-point range.
Miami was ready to go from the opening tip, jumping out to a 40-17 lead and never looking back.
“I think they did a great job setting the tone,” Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said after the Miami win. “Obviously, home opener, crowd was excited, they were excited to play at home first game. Great job setting the tone, playing hard, being physical, pushing us out of our spots, knocking down shots, aggressive rebounds. They did a good job setting the tone.”
The additions of forward P.J. Tucker and guard Kyle Lowry in the offseason certainly add to the aggressiveness of the Heat’s defense. Both started in the opener, and both bring NBA championship experience to the squad. Tucker finished with eight points and six rebounds against his former team, while Lowry’s Heat debut saw him finish with five points and six assists and a sore ankle that has him questionable for Saturday night.
Third-year guard Tyler Herro was the offensive star of the opening win, finishing with 27 points, six rebounds and five assists off the bench. Herro had a big postseason in his rookie year, helping Miami make the NBA Finals, but he was a bit of a disappointment last season. The Heat are hoping Thursday’s showing is a sign of things to come.
Indiana has a pair of one-point losses, including Friday’s overtime setback. The Pacers aren’t exactly among the favorites when sportsbooks rate the NBA title contenders, but there is a lot of talent for new head coach Rick Carlisle to rely on.
Forward Domantas Sabonis has gotten off to a hot start, averaging 30.5 points and 12.0 rebounds while shooting 71.9% from the field. He finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in Friday’s loss.
Center Myles Turner had a double-double against the Wizards with 40 points and 10 rebounds, adding three blocks. Turner led the NBA with 3.4 blocks per game in 2020-21, and he’s averaging 3.5 through two games this season.
A key for the Pacers is the play of guard Malcolm Brogdon, who is averaging 28.0 points, 9.5 assists and 6.0 rebounds through two games. Brogdon sets up the offense and is the best perimeter defender for the team on the other end.
Heat Win Again
Indiana has to be running on fumes after playing an overtime game on the road on Friday and now returning home for a game less than 24 hours later. Miami is playing with intensity on both ends of the floor and will take care of business with a win in this one.
When making your NBA picks, take the Heat to win and cover on the road.