(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) - The Indiana Pacers are back in action tonight as they host the woeful Miami Heat.
The Pacers start the week in tenth place in the Eastern Conference. They trail eighth-place Atlanta by three games for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East. The Hawks were winners over the Knicks on Sunday. New Jersey stands ninth with just a half-game lead over Indiana.
The Heat have lost three in a row and are coming off a 26-point loss in Boston last night. In that game, Miami shot just 29% from the field and set an NBA record by hitting just 17 field goals. The Heat own the worst record in the NBA at 13-and-60.
The Pacers have taken two of three from Miami this season. The heat did win the last meeting back on January 26th, snapping a 15-game losing streak.
The blue-and-gold could get a boost tonight from the return of six-time all-star Jermaine O'Neal. O'Neal said following the Pacers' win over New Jersey on Saturday night that he planned on coming back for tonight's game. He has been working out for the past ten days.
O'Neal has missed 31 games with a bone bruise and swelling in his left knee. He underwent surgery on the knee last spring and says he came back before giving the knee a chance to heal.
While O'Neal is not in game shape, his presence could help a defense that has surrendered an average of more than 113 points in their last five games.
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