Remove the Nets from the equation and the Heat is now 0-5 against the East's top teams. Miami is 0-2 against the Knicks, 0-1 against the Bulls and, after Friday's 102-89 loss to the Pacers, 0-2 against Indiana.
LeBron James isn't too concerned.
“We’re not worried about that,” James said. “We don’t put too much into losing a game or winning a game; we want to get better from those games.
“We don’t need victories versus top-four teams to prove what we’re capable of doing. We don’t need them. We’d love to have them, but we don’t need them.”
The Heat, now 11-11 on the road this season, knows the formula to winning a championship. The regular-season does not play into that formula. Still, the Pacers clearly have improved since last season and could be the biggest threat to the Heat in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Indiana thumped the Heat 87-77 in January and Friday night offered another reminder of the Heat's problems against a team with size.
The Pacers out-rebounded the Heat 34-25 and scored 48 points in the paint. David West was 12 of 15 from the field for 30 points. Indiana's dominance inside helped it overcome 17 turnovers, which the Heat converted into 23 points. Normally, those numbers equal a Heat victory.
The Heat threw several defenders at West throughout the game but no one could stop him. Chris Andersen looked the best inside but he was subbed out in the final quarter after playing 12 minutes. Andersen is still working his way back into shape. Based on his effort on Friday — nine points, three rebounds, one steal and a blocked shot — Andersen's minutes will increase gradually in the second half of the season.
In a series against the Pacers, Andersen appears to be the Heat's best option in the paint.