NBA TV’s Dennis Scott talks Pacers and previews Round 4 vs the Heat
If you live outside Central Indiana, you’re in luck Friday and will be able to watch the fourth meeting of the season between the Pacers and the Miami Heat. NBA TV is pleased to have the national broadcast rights for the second time. They also televised the first face-off on Dec. 10 back in Indianapolis. (FOX Sports Indiana will have its usual coverage for fans in Indianapolis.)
To preview the matchup, Pacers.com spoke with NBA TV analyst Dennis Scott Thursday afternoon.
Scott spent the entire 90s in the NBA, playing for six different teams. During that time, and ever since, he can’t remember an entire starting five being held out for rest purposes , as was the case on Wednesday when the Pacers played up in Milwaukee. But he does see a bright spot to the bench rallying and Chris Copeland sinking a game-winning runner in the lane.
“We’ve seen sometimes something that simple change the morale, get the chemistry going because to me, the good teams that I have been on, the chemistry the only thing oh so important for guys trusting one another and really believing they can go deep [in the playoffs],” he said. “To see those guys embrace Copeland and guys running to half-court high-fiving, maybe that can be something that gets their spirit back because they’re too good of a team to be playing so poorly like they’ve played the last month of the season.”
After sprinting to a 33-7 start to the season, the Pacers have faced numerous hurdles in the last few months. They haven’t handled success well, and have far too often fell behind early in games and then had to work hard just to get back in the game. Their league-leading defense wasn’t as dominant and their offense became stagnant with guys trying to jumpstart it on their own.
Since the All-Star break, the Pacers have gone 14-13. Scott said the team’s defense, their bread and butter, has been most concerning to him during the stretch:
“The biggest thing is their team defense — the way they’ve let (teams) score 100 points and the way they’ve let guys come into their building and pretty much move and go wherever they want to go. That’s been the biggest thing because that’s how they built their identity … on the defensive end.
“They’ve never have been an offensive juggernaut but the defense has normally generated some easy offense for them to take some of that pressure off of their half-court offense.”
The Pacers have had their last two seasons ended by the Heat in the playoffs, in the second and third round, respectively. Indiana and Miami are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference and it has become one of the best matchups in the Association today.
“I believe it’s going to be one of those games that’s like a Game 7,” LeBron James told reporters on Wednesday.
Scott enjoys the battles but says the only way it’ll feel like a Game 7 is if Dwyane Wade plays. Wade has missed the last eight games, going back their last meeting with the Pacers, due to a strained hamstring.
“It’s still in its infancy stage because they’ve only faced each other once in the Eastern Conference Finals,” Scott explained. “But because those two teams have been the top (dogs) the last couple of years and because of all the side stories of Roy Hibbert and Paul George becoming an All-Star and the way he plays against LeBron and the dunk on Birdman, we don’t forget any of that. When the playoffs come and if they do face each other in the Eastern Conference Finals, all those same highlights and all those same storylines will come right back to surface to make it another juicy series.”
NBA TV will have a half-hour pregame show, with Steve Smith and ex-Pacers coach Isiah Thomas previewing Round 4 of Pacers and Heat. Host Matt Winer will be in Miami providing live pre- and post-game reports.
Ahead of such an interesting game, Turner Sports provided the following quotes from Reggie Miller and Chris Webber:
Reggie Miller on Miami and Indiana competing for the top seed in the Eastern Conference: “Both [Miami and Indiana] will say ‘We want the No. 1 seed.’ You always want Game 7 in your building, but when you’re the two best teams, you can go on the road and actually get a win.”
Miller on the Heat and Eastern Conference opponents: “If I’m Miami and I’m looking at the landscape of the Eastern Conference, you get by that first round, you’re very well going to play either Chicago or Brooklyn, and Brooklyn has won four straight against Miami this year… I’m not quite sure you don’t want to get that No. 2 spot and take a little bit road less traveled to the Eastern Conference Finals.”
Chris Webber on Indiana and Miami vying for the top seed in the Eastern Conference: “If I’m Indiana, I just want to get my mojo back, go to wherever Stella went and get my groove back. Right now, they’re not playing well and it’s obvious to everyone in the league.”