Monday Can't Come Soon Enough

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Heat lost to the Pacers 94-81at Indiana last night in their second round series opener. The Heat had a 14-0 edge in fast break points and outrebounded the Pacers by eight, but it was Indiana's 50% shooting from the three point line and their 32-18 edge in trips to the charity stripe that gave the Pacers the win. The Heat have yet to win a road game this postseason. The series continues tomorrow in Indiana and comes to Miami on Monday. It can't come soon enough.

Dan Le Batard ofThe Miami Heraldnotes an interesting fact: the Heat have not won a single road game against a winning team this year, either in the regular season or in the playoffs. Whatever it is about the home court, somehow the Heat need to have it on their side.

It may not even be a matter of the opponents beating them at their home court; perhaps the Heat beat themselves on the road. It took every home game they had to finally finish off the Hornets. If the Heat are an unstoppable force at home, then at best this series with Indiana gets pushed to a seventh game.

That would be quite an accomplishment, taking arguably the league's best team to the final buzzer. But first they'll have to endure another road game at Indianapolis on Saturday. There are of course only two possibilities. If they somehow eke out their first road victory against a winning team, enough said. That's good stuff.

But if they happen to lose again, they would be in the same position they put New Orleans in in the first round. And they'll have to pluck themselves up off the floor just like the Hornets did and come back and win their own home games.

In other words, Monday can't come soon enough.

The Heat's playoff run continues tomorrow, Saturday, May 8th, at 7:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. CDT on ESPN and the Sunshine station. The complete playoff schedule is as follows:
1 - Miami (81) @ INDIANA (94)
2 - Miami @ Indiana - Saturday, May 8th - 7:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. CDT on ESPN
3 - Indiana @ Miami - Monday, May 10th - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on TNT
4 - Indiana @ Miami - Wednesday, May 12th - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on ESPN
5 - Miami @ Indiana - Saturday, May 15th - TBA (if needed) on TNT
6 - Indiana @ Miami - Tuesday, May 18th - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT (if needed) on ESPN
7 - Miami @ Indiana - Thursday, May 20th - TBA (if needed) on ESPN

Carol Butler got a steal last night, extending his streak of playoff games with at least one steal to eight. That is just one game shy of the franchise record set by Dan Majerle.

Brian Grantmissed Wednesday's practice with a lower-back strain but was back for both shootaround and the game yesterday. He wore a pad under his uniform during the game. He also is undergoing ultra-sound, massage, and stretching to try to heal it.Lamar Odomleft the game briefly in the second quarter to get three stitches in his chin after taking a fall under the basket.


Our own Marc F. Robert ofHoopsworld.comwrites: The Heat have been one of the league’s hottest teams since the All-Star break and have won a franchise record 16 straight games in Miami. However, the scariest part about the upstart Heat is the fact that their style of play is very similar to that of the Pacers.The two teams are within one percent of each other in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and three-point percentage on the season. The teams also both score in the low-90s and grab just over 41 rebounds on average. Not surprisingly the teams have similar players.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Herald writes: The Heat came into its second-round series on a euphoric high, evident from the downright giddiness in the pregame locker room to the quick start to Thursday's game.The Indiana Pacers, though, have a way of taking the joy out of the playoff experience. They did it to the Boston Celtics when they swept them out of the first round, and they started the Heat off in the same fashion.

Dan Le Batard ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: You know how many winning teams Miami has beaten away from home this season? Zero.Think about that for a second. Miami has played half of its 90 games this wonderful season away from home and has not once managed to luck into or stumble upon a triumph against a team that finished the season with a winning record. Usually, when you find this kind of stink on the road, it is surrounded by circling buzzards. It isn't a lack of talent. It isn't a lack of want or will. And it certainly isn't a lack of effort. It is, however, a lack of confidence.

Greg Cote ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Indiana should win this series. Should. But it might not be in four or five games. And it will not be without a fight. That's what Thursday showed. It was more than not quitting, even as the Indiana lead ballooned past 20 in the second half. It was the idea the young Heat was not intimidated -- despite its awful road record, despite the Pacers' great success at home. It was the idea the Heat still believes, even if nobody else outside of its hard-core fandom does.Miami got a struggling night from Lamar Odom, next to no offense from Brian Grant, and hardly anything at all of Eddie Jones. And yet the Heat gave itself a modest chance, cutting the lead to eight with time to play. Of course, the fact we are praising the Heat effort after a 13-point defeat tells you how much work Miami has to do.

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: The Heat is 1-4 all-time when losing the first game of a playoff series.Further, it now has lost its past seven postseason road games. By contrast, Indiana has won 11 of 13 playoff series when taking Game 1 and has won all five of its second-round postseason series. As for the present reality, Thursday's loss was the Heat's 10th in a row to the Pacers, a team that looked every bit of its league-leading regular-season record. "I've got to find some answers I haven't had all year," Van Gundy said.

Dave Hyde ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes: Three times, the Heat had a chance to whittle that eight-point lead down further, but that was all it got.Indiana held on for a 94-81 win somewhat easily. But in this series it also mattered that the Heat kids came back and put some sweat into this building.

Hank Lowenkron ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Ron Artest's headache didn't last long enough for the Heat... Artest, who was presented the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award by former Celtics star Bill Russell before the game, had 10 of his points in the first quarter which ended with Indiana leading 23-15.