Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/25/18
While the Miami Heat are all but assured of a playoff spot, their fight to climb higher continues Sunday when they face the Indiana Pacers.
Miami (39-34) started play Saturday seventh in the Eastern Conference, 6.5 games better than ninth-place Detroit. But the Heat are also just one-half game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth seed, and the difference between seventh and eighth is playing the likely No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors or a Boston Celtics squad that may not have a fully healthy Kyrie Irving.
The Heat were thwarted in a bid for a fourth straight win by Oklahoma City, falling 105-99 on the road Friday night. James Johnson scored 23 points and Goran Dragic added 20 for Miami, who kept Russell Westbrook in check for three quarters before he scored 17 in the final period.
Miami continue to struggle to get consistent offensive production from the center position without injured starter Hassan Whiteside. Bam Adebayo missed all five of his shots and went scoreless while Kelly Olynyk had nine points and three assists while making three of seven from the floor.
Indiana (42-31) secured their third straight winning season with a 109-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points, one off his season high, and hit 12 of 18 shots while Darren Collison chipped in 13 and ten assists as the pair helped compensate for an off night from Victor Oladipo, who finished with 18 points but shot four for 16.
Despite the win, the Pacers continue to have problems with depth at the center position. Myles Turner had seven points in 37-plus minutes, and without injured reserve Domantas Sabonis, coach Nate McMillan has turned to a smaller lineup, using Trevor Booker as an undersized center.
The Pacers are 1.5 games behind Cleveland for the Central Division lead with nine games remaining and are percentage points behind the Philadelphia 76ers for fourth in the East, which carries home-court advantage in the first round.