"Freeze the Heat" display at Pacers "Locker Room" restaurant
The Pacers got off on a bit of a wrong foot before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals even tipped off with the announcement that forward Evan Turner would be out for the game because of strep throat.
National analysts also seemed convinced that while the Pacers will put up a fight, they won't be able to overcome the Heat in the end. The majority of the major sports media outlets picked the Heat to win in six games, putting the Pacers in the odd position of underdogs with home court advantage.
The Pacers seemed fine with the designation, though, winning Game 1 107-96.
You can read some analyst predictions below.
Dan Feldman,NBC Sports - Heat in 6 The Pacers’ late collapse was very real, but also probably overblown. A good, but not elite, team is left in the rubble. It’s also a team designed specifically to match up with the Heat, Indiana could definitely overcome the quality gap between the teams.
The biggest potential variable is one that hopefully won’t be an issue at all – Wade’s health. If he goes down, this series loses a lot of prestige. He looks fine, but his knees are a constant concern and will be for the rest of his career. As long as Wade avoids injury, the Heat will just be too much.
Adi Joseph, USA Today - Heat in 6 If there's one team that could galvanize and re-energize Hibbert, it's the Heat. They don't have the size to match up with the 7'2" All-Star, and he has played some of his best and most memorable games in the playoffs against the Heat. George proved last year he can go head-to-head with James as well as anyone, and Indiana has a more balanced roster than Miami. The Heat also never know how much they'll get out of Dwyane Wade, who at his best is better than anyone on the Pacers.
The Heat are the best team in the NBA when they come together. LeBron James has dominated the playoffs, and Miami has reached this round without any pressure while Indiana needed seven games vs. the lowly Hawks and six vs. the inexperienced Wizards. Wade and Ray Allen always seem to rise to the occasion when needed, and Chris Bosh continues to be one of the most underrated players in the NBA.
Zach Lowe, ESPN - Heat in 6 The Pacers have home court and the tools to challenge Miami. The Heat are thin and vulnerable, too reliant on the world’s best player.
But LeBron will get his, despite all the problems Indy’s defense can bring. That is what the best player in the world is supposed to do. Wade still has another gear in him. And it’s just hard to trust the Pacers to play four good games after watching them flounder for three months. Their wheezing, stagnant offense shifts from facing Atlanta and Washington to facing an amped-up machine waiting to choke them to death. Their bench remains a massive liability.
CBS Sports Ken Berger - Heat in 5 Matt Moore - Heat in 6 Zach Harper - Heat in 6 James Herbert - Heat in 6