TV: NBA TV
- Miami is trying to join Chicago and Oklahoma City as the only teams to sweep a back-to-back-to-back set this season. Relatively easy victories over Atlanta and Milwaukee have eased the physical stress on Miami’s players, and Coach Erik Spoelstra conducted the usual game-day walk-through, meeting and film session Tuesday morning. “We’re not talking about any excuses for this game,” he said. Thus far, 18 sets have been completed with the teams involved going 28-26.
- The Pacers are opening their first back-to-back-to-back set in 13 years, which isn’t the ideal scenario for a team trying to snap a three-game losing streak. Coach Frank Vogel, in fact, isn’t even looking at the games collectively. “Our focus right now is strictly on cleaning up some slippage, particularly on the defensive end, getting back to being the No. 1 defensive team in the league, which we were for the first part of the season, and beating Miami,” he said. “I’ll manage it like a back-to-back, which will be slight restrictions on minutes. I want to make sure I use my bench, obviously. But I’m not going to overreact to it, either.”
- Roy Hibbert said the three-game set reminded him of his youth basketball days. “It goes back to those round-robin days when you were a little kid, playing a lot of games in a row,” he said. “In those days you could play off of Starburst, Skittles and Gatorade.” Danny Granger said these days the greater priority was on “ice tubs and heat wraps and a lot of sleep and a lot of water.”
- Miami Backup center Dexter Pittman (sprained left shoulder) will not play tonight, “but he is improving,” Spoelstra said. “Hopefully, in the next couple of days he can take another step forward.”
- Indiana sixth man George Hill will miss his eighth consecutive game with a chip fracture in his left ankle. The Pacers have 3-4 without him. Hill has begun light on-court work but Vogel said there still is “no definitive timetable” for his return. Veteran backup center Jeff Foster will be available tonight and Thursday but will be held out of the game in Cleveland Wednesday night as a precaution against aggravating his tender lower back.
– Conrad Brunner