Miami, 25 August 2020 (tca/dpa/MIA) – The Miami Heat is moving on to the second round of the NBA playoffs after a statement series victory against the Indiana Pacers.
The Heat completed a four-game sweep of the Pacers on Monday with a 99-87 win in Lake Buena Vista. Miami won its four games by a combined 42 points and trailed in the series’ fourth quarters for a total of just 11 seconds. None of the games were closer than nine points.
With the 4-0 series win, the number five-seed Heat advances to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2016. Miami, which missed the playoffs for the third time in five years last season, will likely face the Milwaukee Bucks, who took a 3-1 series lead on the Orlando Magic earlier Monday at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
To finish off the sweep, Miami had to gut out its ugliest win yet with All-Star post player Bam Adebayo setting the tone with 14 points, 19 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block.
It all started in the first quarter, when Jimmy Butler checked out with a left shoulder strain after just six minutes. The All-Star wing went back to the locker room and didn’t return until the second half, and still the Heat managed to build a 48-42 halftime lead.
Miami had to do so with defense, though. The Heat went 5 of 15 from three-point range in the first half and missed its last six heading into halftime, ultimately finishing the game 8 of 30 from long range.
Sharpshooting swingman Duncan Robinson made just one in the first half and finished 1 of 7 from deep. Butler didn’t make a field goal in his brief first-quarter stint and finished with just six points in 23 minutes.
With the offense stagnant, Miami turned to Kendrick Nunn for the first time in the postseason. The guard started every game he played in the regular season and is one of three finalists for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, but he fell out of the rotation and surprisingly didn’t play in any of the Heat’s first three games against Indiana.
He checked in for the first time with 7:35 left in the second and immediately sparked Miami. On his first three possessions, Nunn handed out two assists and hit a three-pointer, and the rookie finished with seven points in 14 minutes.
The Heat quickly built a 60-47 in the first five minutes of the third quarter and never trailed in the second half. Guard Goran Dragic, who finished with a team-high 23 points, scored 13 in the fourth quarter and Miami held the number four-seed Pacers to just 41.8 per cent from the field with 15 turnovers.