INDIANAPOLIS, IN—December 27th, 2009 was NOT a great day for Indianapolis sports fans.
Most people will remember that as the day the Colts' perfect season came to a crashing halt. The New York Jets beat the Colts 29-15 after Jim Caldwell/Bill Polian decided to rest their starters ( Peyton Manning) in the second half. It was not one of the city's proudest moments as the 14-0 team was loudly booed by the home fans.
December 27th was also a day local NBA fans would like to forget. The Pacers had lost five consecutive games and were shooting for something to be happy about during the holiday season. Coming off a home loss to Atlanta, the Pacers hopped on a plane to South Florida hoping for a little sunshine and an elusive victory.
Instead, Dwyane Wade and the Heat absolutely obliterated the Pacers 114-80, at the time, the Pacers' biggest loss of the season.
"That was a real bad game. That was probably one of the worst games we've played this year, so we're going to have to pick it up in a big way," commented Roy Hibbert Monday, a couple hours before boarding the plane to Miami.
Former Pacer Jermaine O'Neal clearly dominated the battle of the centers in that meeting, out-scoring Hibbert 19 to 7. Troy Murphy led the Pacers in scoring that December Sunday, but 16 points is not usually enough for your team leader in any game.
"We really struggled down there the last time. We came off a back-to-back I believe, so we're looking for a little redemption when we go back," added Murphy.
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As much of a mismatch as the last Pacers-Heat game was, there is some reason for Pacers fans to be optimistic. Danny Granger didn't play, one of 16 he missed due to injury.
"Last time I was on the bench in my suit, but it wasn't pretty. We definitely have a score to settle," added Granger who is averaging 23 points in six games since returning from the planter fascia in his right foot.
While it is easy for football fans and players alike to remember every game of the much shorter, 16-game regular season, basketball players must have short memories while logging an 82-game schedule. The games often run together, however a loss like the one the Pacers suffered in Miami is enough to leave a long-lasting bad taste in the players' mouths.
Both Hibbert and Murphy used the same word to describe the loss.
"They embarrassed us, so that is in the back of our minds, we know we have business to take care of," said Hibbert.
"That was an embarrassment the last time. To lose like that is never good," added Murphy.
The revenge many Indianapolis fans are looking forward to this week will take place Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium when the Jets play the Colts for the AFC Championship.
However, the Pacers plan to settle a score of their own from a December 27th disappointment when they play Miami Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena.
Check out the Related Content for more interviews from Monday's Pacers practice at Conseco Fieldhouse, or click on the Video Player at the top of the screen for more analysis from Indysportsnation's Jeremiah Johnson.