Heat vs. Pacers preview: LeBron James, Paul George clash in East showdown

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Miami Heat bring one of the league's best offenses into Indiana to take on the Pacers' top ranked defense in an Eastern Conference showdown Friday night.

The NBA's top scoring offense will meet the league's top defense on Friday when the Miami Heat travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers. Both teams are very familiar with each other after their meeting in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last season. Miami fell behind in the series 2-1 before rallying to win the final three games to advance to the second round.

For more on this game, visit Hot Hot Hoops and Indy Cornrows

Indiana won the earlier meeting between the two clubs and held the Heat to a season low 77 points. They are allowing opponents just 89.9 points per game and leading the NBA in opponents' field goal percentage. Indiana is currently tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 27-19 record.

Miami is averaging over 102 points per game and leads the NBA in field goal percentage. The Heat have won five of their last six but are just 11-10 on the road this season. They did go into Brooklyn and defeat the Nets 105-85 on Wednesday. The Pacers have won the last two meetings in the regular season.

Pace will likely play a huge factor in this game as Miami will be trying to speed things up and Indiana will attempt to do the opposite. LeBron James and company are at their best in transition and while the Pacers have athletic players like Paul George, they are best suited to try and grind it out against a team with as much offensive firepower as the Heat.

James vs. George

In the previous matchup, Paul George finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds more than holding his own against James. Defensively George is a good enough athlete to bother James and 25 points could be the magic number. Indiana is 4-1 against Miami since the 2011 season when they hold James to 25 or fewer.

George didn't have a lot of luck in last season's playoff loss to the Heat averaging 10 points per game on 37 percent shooting. However, he has taken a huge step forward this season with the absence of Danny Granger and is leading the Pacers in scoring at 17.4 points per game. George says that he uses the matchups against James as measuring sticks for his own game.

"It's a chance for me to see where I'm at, going against one of the best, if not, the best in the league. Another challenge to myself to go at LeBron."

George and the Pacers will be best served on Friday if he can make James expend energy on the defensive end of the court on Friday.

Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Friday and is the first game of ESPN's nationally televised double-header.

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