Do The Indiana Pacers Have Any Chance Of Beating The Miami Heat?
The NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals haven’t started yet, but the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat are already doing battle. On Saturday night, shortly after the Pacers beat the New York Knicks to advance to the ECF, Indy coach Frank Vogel referred to the Heat as “just another team” during his post-game press conference. Although he later explained that he didn’t mean any harm in it and that he was simply pointing out that the Heat would be the next team that his squad was set to face, LeBron James took exception to his choice of his words and let him know that the Heat are anything but “just another team.”
“We’re not just another team,” James said. “I don’t understand what he’s saying. But we’re not just another team. That’s not true. He said we’re just another team in their way. We’re a great team. If we’re just another team, you really don’t prepare for just another team. You have to prepare for us.”
James is right. The Heat are not “just another team.” Far from it actually. They’re the best team in the NBA and arguably one of the best teams the league has ever seen. But, by the same token, that doesn’t mean the Pacers should be scared. They actually match up quite well against the Heat and should give them a serious run for their money in this postseason. But do they have a real chance of beating the Heat?
The truth is that they do. They actually had the Heat on the ropes at one point during last year’s NBA Playoffs and looked like they might knock them off. But they fell apart in the final three games of the series and ended up losing 4-2. This year, they need to build off what they did last year and finish the job if they want to advance to the NBA Finals. They need to play good D, avoid turning the game into a track meet, keep Roy Hibbert out of foul trouble, and get some big games out of Paul George. They also need to find a way to contain James and Dwyane Wade without simply putting the ball into other Heat players’ hands and letting them shoot threes at will. Basically, they need to play fundamentally sound basketball, stay disciplined, and, most importantly, not let their emotions get the best of them.
Is knocking off the Heat going to be easy? Not at all. We’ll actually be surprised if the Pacers manage to do it. But at the same time, it is doable. It’s going to be a hard-fought battle for both teams, though, and that battle has already begun. It should be an excellent series.