NBA viewing guide: Heat-Pacers rematch is worth the hype


The big game of the night features Paul George and the NBA-leading Pacers taking on the back-to-back champions.

There's a big game Tuesday night featuring the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. The teams put on a phenomenal seven-game series just a few months ago and will meet for the first time since the LeBron James gang sent the Pacers packing.

Here's how the schedule looks for Tuesday night, leading off with the top team in the NBA taking on the back-to-back champions:

Main Course

Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers


The schedule waits for no one, going straight to the main course featuring the first meeting of the season between the Heat and Pacers since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Things have slightly changed since that memorable series, like the 2013 Most Improved Player Paul George breaking through the glass ceiling into elite territory. Remember this from the playoffs, seemingly George's "I'm here" moment :


George has bumped up his scoring average, field goal percentage, three-point shooting percentage and steals per game in his fourth year with Indiana, looking like a true breakout star as he crushes teams from the perimeter. Maybe the seven-game series loss to Miami was the key to taking his game to the next level:

Which side budges first? The Pacers are allowing a league-best 96.1 points per 100 possessions, while the Heat are putting up the second-best offensive efficiency in the NBA at 110.4 points per 100 possessions (even with Dwyane Wade battling knee soreness on a game-to-game basis), according to Basketball-Reference. Something's gotta give for one of these teams in what should be a fascinating chess match.

Reading Material: Pacers win "Best in Show" in Grantland awardsGrading the first quarter of the Heat's season

Bonus: James Herbert went the full-nine on the preview for this showcase game, so be sure to give it a look!

Side Dishes

New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

7 p.m. ET, MSG, FSOH

When we last saw the Knicks they were on the wrong end of a 41-point embarrassment, in Madison Square Garden, to the Boston Celtics. To say things have not gone well for the Knickerbockers would be an understatement, but the Cavaliers have been fairly underwhelming as well. They're 7-13 on the year and have the worst offensive efficiency in the league at 97.3 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.

Yes, this game starts around the same time as that big Eastern Conference showdown in Indiana, but if that isn't your cup of basketball goodness, this is an intriguing option. Even if it's for all the wrong reasons.

Can Andrew Bynum keep the good times rolling? The former All-Star center is enjoying his best stretch of basketball since leaving Los Angeles and faces a New York team without a defensive anchor in the low post. He's averaging 18 points and nine rebounds over the last four games and could keep the momentum rolling against the Knicks' porous defense.

Reading Material: How to root for the mediocre CavaliersMissing the cool Mike Woodson in New York

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Atlanta Hawks

7:30 p.m. ET, FSOK, FSS

The Thunder just picked up a big win over the Pacers on Sunday and are 15-4 on the season, but just don't have the hype that's followed the team in recent years. They aren't an out-of-nowhere team like the Portland Trail Blazers, a team taking it to unexpected heights like the Pacers or the home of LeBron James, but they still have two out-of-this-world players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook every night.

The Atlanta Hawks are holding up in their first year under Mike Budenholzer and without Josh Smith, making this a worthy game to catch if you're just not into the main course.

Who wins the battle of the bigs? The Thunder have a clear advantage on the wings, but Atlanta has the better frontcourt duo in Al Horford and Paul Millsap. If the Hawks can get their bigs rolling, it could be a long night for Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and rookie Steven Adams.

Reading Material: Weekly grades for the ThunderIs Lou Williams a long-term fit for Hawks?


Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers

10:30 p.m. ET, FSAZ, TWSN

Kobe Bryant didn't do so hot in his first game back since tearing his Achilles, but maybe take two will be better. He's got a knack for going after the Suns and even if he's already made his season debut, watching him progress is going to be a thing for a while. Aside from that, it's the only true late game, so once you're done polishing off that Heat-Pacers T-bone steak, settle in for a nightcap in Los Angeles.

Things can only get better for Kobe, right? A nine-point, four-assist, eight-rebound effort isn't the worst line ever, but when you add in the ugly eight turnovers and 2-for-9 shooting, that frown does not turn upside down. After looking tentative in his return, Kobe should feel a bit more comfortable in his second game back. Right? Right?!

Reading Material: Mike D'Antoni's amazing coaching job just became irrelevantThe Suns have assets to facilitate an Asik trade

Pass it on

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls

8 p.m. ET, FSWI, CSCH

If you're into watching the Bulls play without Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng, then boy do I have the game for you. Otherwise, stick to any of the other numerous games airing around this time.

Reading Material: Bulls "strong frontrunner" for D.J. AugustinAre the Bucks pursuing a trade for Omer Asik?

Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets

7:30 p.m. ET, CSNE, YES

The Celtics just laid the smackdown on New York's "other" team and get a chance to complete a clean sweep of the two underwhelming New York teams. Tune in to see if Brooklyn can dodge losing by 40 at home to the guys in green; otherwise, pass this thing on.

Reading Material: The Celtics and player developmentDeron Williams is back

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Detroit Pistons

7:30 p.m. ET, FSN, FSD+

I'm sorry, but I just can't get up for this one, even if it's the "Chauncey Billups returns from knee tendonitis" game. Kevin Love will also make a return to the Timberwolves, who just suffered a 21-point loss to the Heat in their last outing without him.

Reading Material: An early look at potential T-Wolves draft prospectsAndre Drummond chasing offensive rebounding history

San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors

7 p.m. ET, FSSW, SNET

This one almost squeaked into the side dishes category because of that big Rudy Gay trade that ended up with the Raptors landing Greivis Vasquez, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson. But none of said acquisitions are playing, so go ahead and skip the Spurs' visit to Canada.

Reading Material: Kawhi and Manu need to get to the line more oftenThe end of the Rudy Gay nightmare in Toronto

More from SB Nation NBA:

Why Dwight Howard and Omer Asik didn't work together

The List: What is Kidd's 13-letter word of choice?

The Hook: A tale of two Rudy Gay trades

NBA power rankings: Pacers roll while Heat sink

Sunday Shootaround: Celtics focus only on future

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