Dec 18, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem (40) points at Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson (not pictured) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat Could Decide East Tonight

If there was a game to highlight on the calendar, it is tonight’s game.  Sure, it’s “another” game in the 82 game schedule.  Let’s face it with the way the Indiana Pacers have been playing and with the Miami Heat just a couple of games back for that top spot in the Eastern Conference, this isn’t just another game.

To me, this is a game of mental importance for the Indiana Pacers.  If they can put together a win against the Heat tonight, they’ll have three games up and I would also believe that some of the gold swagger that’s been gone would be back.  A game at home against your top rival is just one way to restore some of the magic from that start of the season.

It’s going to take one of the best games of the season for the Pacers to put a win together, but if there was ever a time to play your best, tonight is it. I understand the teams will meet again in April, so that one could be just as big. But what would the Pacers rather have after tonight: a one game lead or three games lead?  That’s not a hard one to answer, and that’s why I’m placing a huge bit of importance on this one.

It’s going to take Paul George slowing down Lebron James, and holding his own on the offensive side of things.  Just like I mentioned about the Pacers coming together for this game tonight, I would love for Paul George to have a breakout game and hit for 25 points or more and get the win for his team.

Another guy that could really step up is Roy Hibbert.  Remember how good he looked last year against the Heat?  That needs to happen tonight. Make the Heat have to take note of Hibbert, and have the Pacers, themselves, remember what an advantage they can have on the inside.  Roy Hibbert’s game has been missing in action for a bit now, and maybe it will just take one good game to get him on track. I think he needs to get at least 15 or more points and even hold his own on the rebounding edge to get his head right.

Stop the chirping to the refs.  Start rebounding the ball.  Hit some of the easy shots, if there are easy shots to be had tonight.  Cut down the turnovers.  We all know what the Pacers NEED to do, it’s all about carrying it out.  Tonight’s the best time for things to just click and get the Pacers rolling along towards not only a division title, which can be done with a win, but that top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Remember all that talk about how important that top spot is for the Indiana Pacers?  You think that if they end up in the second slot, they won’t be just beat mentally and could end up bowing out earlier of the playoffs than they expected?  Just throwing more fuel to the fire of tonight’s game.

If we don’t see some of that passion that’s been missing from the team tonight, I don’t know when you’ll see it.  You’ll probably end up cededing that top spot in the Eastern Conference as well, and things just won’t be as special as they should have been.  That’s why this game #71 is so important for the Indiana Pacers.

Tags: Game Preview Indiana Pacers

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