Neither the Indiana Pacers nor the Miami Heat come into Wednesday night's third of four meetings during the regular season playing their best basketball. Since the All-Star break, Miami's 11-7 record ranks tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference with the Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards, while Indiana's 11-8 record ranks seventh.
However, those records mask a real difference between how the two East powers have performed over the past month-plus. The Heat have outscored a difficult schedule by 4.4 points per game, suggesting their slump has been more about bad luck in close games and letdowns against lowly opponents such as the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans.
By contrast, the Pacers' point differential of minus-0.2 points per game represents a more serious downturn -- especially given that it has come against the easiest schedule in the league in that span.
Why has Indiana sputtered? Let's take a look.