Remember when Jermaine ONeal was a Miami Heat killer? There was nothing worse than showing up at American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) and seeing that number-seven Indiana Pacers jersey, because you knew that night the Heat were taking a loss. From the 2000-01 season, the year the Pacers acquired ONeal from the Portland Trailblazers, to the 2007-08 season, his last with the team, the Pacers were 22-7 against the Heat, and that includes the dominant Shaq + Wade years. In one stretch between March 2001 and April 2005, the Heat did not win a single game, home or away, against the Pacers during the regular season. And they also had the unfortunate luck of facing them in the 2003-04 playoffs and getting a 4-2 series beatdown.
Thank goodness ONeal is with us now and the Pacers main weapon, Danny Granger, is out with a torn right plantar fascia. The Heat could use an easy home win this Sunday night at 6, because after a hot start, Erik Spoelstras squad has looked a lot like a team that has only one star. Is a Riley trade on the horizon? Tickets start at $10. Visit miamiheat.com.
Sun., Dec. 27, 6 p.m., 2009