The Miami Heat open a four-game road swing on Monday when they travel to Indianapolis to face the high-scoring Indiana Pacers.
Indiana, ranked sixth in the NBA in scoring through games played Saturday with 115.9 points per game, had its second-highest output of the season on Saturday versus the Brooklyn Nets.
The Pacers’ 133 points were not enough in Saturday’s three-point loss, however, as Cam Thomas led four Nets scoring at least 20 points with his 33 off the bench.
“The most difficult thing about this game and the ugliest is the rebounding,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “Giving up 29 offensive rebounds is an effort statistic. And so, we just really had a poor effort.”
Indiana’s offensive rebounding woes translated into a 37-12 disparity in second-chance points for Brooklyn, overshadowing a stellar individual performance from Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton scored a season-high 35 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the floor, including 7-of-8 from 3-point range, and dished nine assists.
He finished just one assist shy of his 10th double-double in the last 11 appearances. As it stands, Haliburton’s 11.0 assists per game lead the league.
Brooklyn’s offensive rebounds translating into second-chance points on Saturday compounded what has been a season-long difficulty for the Pacers. The 11.9 offensive rebounds they are surrendering per game ranked the third-most in the NBA through Saturday’s games.
Meanwhile, though the Pacers are 8-0 in games during which they score from 121 to 129 points this season, Saturday dropped them to 0-2 when scoring more than 129 points. The performance against Brooklyn underscored Indiana’s defensive struggles, giving up one of the league’s highest defensive averages at 116.7 points per game.
As the Pacers continue a four-game homestand on Monday, Miami will try to jump-start its sputtering offense against Indiana’s porous defense.
The Heat rank third-to-last in scoring at 108.6 points per game. Miami scored above its average its last time out, but that was not enough against a San Antonio squad sitting near the bottom of the NBA standings.
Saturday’s 115-111 loss was Miami’s third in its past four outings. In the other two — Dec. 5 at Memphis and Dec. 6 against Detroit — the Heat failed to break double-digits scoring.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to be honest with ourselves and everybody has to be better, one-through-however-many-people we’ve got on this roster,” Jimmy Butler said following Saturday’s loss, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel “Figure out a way to win these games, whether it be home, away, no matter what the opposing team’s record is, no matter who we’re playing.”
Some of Miami’s inconsistency can be attributed to roster fluctuation. The Heat have dealt with a multitude of injuries, including Butler’s seven-game absence just a few weeks ago.
Butler returned to the lineup to score 25 points in an overtime win at Boston, the team with the NBA’s best record. But with Butler in the lineup and netting 30 points against San Antonio, Miami closed out a three-game homestand at just 1-2 with losses to teams dwelling at or near the bottom of their conferences’ cellars with the Pistons and Spurs.
–Field Level Media