The Miami Heat face perhaps their most difficult challenge of the playoffs on Saturday night, getting a second win in Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Indiana Pacers. A win on Saturday would propel the Heat to their third straight NBA Finals, but a loss would result in a Game 7 match-up against the Pacers back in Miami. The Heat have won their last six close-out games, but no one expects things to be easy.
“The close-out game is always the toughest,” Heat forward Shane Battier said.
To make matters all the more difficult, reserve center Chris Andersen has been suspended for Game 6 after his altercation with Indiana forward Tyler Hansbrough. The loss of the Birdman will force Heat head coach Erik Spolestra to adjust his rotation, and no doubt the prideful Pacers will respond to their crowd’s frenzied presence. Here are a few things to watch for in tonight’s pivotal Game 6 contest.
When Chris Andersen hip-checked Tyler Hansbrough and pushed the spastic forward, he was only assessed a flagrant-1 foul and a technical foul. Pundits immediately called for his suspension, perhaps deservedly so, but Andersen was allowed to continue playing in the game and registered a vicious block on a Hansbrough lay-up attempt a little later. The NBA stepped in on Friday, upgraded Andersen’s foul to a flagrant-2, which, had it been assessed during the game it would have resulted in his ejection, and suspended the colorfully hued Heat forward for tonight’s Game 6.