The old saying goes “be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.” This saying describes the Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat perfectly. Last year, the Pacers and Heat collided in the Eastern Conference Finals where the Heat would be victorious en route to its second consecutive NBA title. The Pacers felt some type of way about it, claiming if they had the home court advantage, they would have went on to face the San Antonio Spurs.
Throughout the offseason the Pacers had one goal in mind; be the number one seed in the Eastern Conference so that a potential Game 7 would be played in Indiana. Well, that goal was achieved, but it isn’t a sure thing we will get anything like we did last year in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers were arguably the best team in the NBA for most of the season. The keyword there is ‘most.’ Indiana finished 12-13 down the fine 25 game stretch of the regular season. Luckily for them, the Heat had its fair share of struggles down the final stretch, so Indiana retained home court advantage. Indiana looked like the NBA players in the movie Space Jam when the Monstars took all of their talent.
The Pacers were taken to seven games by the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks and then to six games against the up-and-coming Washington Wizards. There were times in the playoffs where the Pacers’ players looked to be unmotivated and disinterested, yet somehow came out victorious to get to the point it wanted to all along. Maybe now this team will wake up and find that hunger again, going against the team that has knocked them out of the previous two postseasons. It’s put up or shut up time for the Pacers, but the Heat are well aware of its own task at hand; getting back to the NBA Finals in hopes of capturing their third consecutive title.
Miami’s struggles down the stretch were something most people would expect, to a certain extent. It is hard for teams who are accustomed to winning championships to be motivated the whole way through the 82 game regular season. Also, the Heat would give Dwyane Wade plenty of rest at various points throughout the season to let his body get some rest for a playoff run. The Heat have been clicking on all cylinders this postseason, defeating the Charlotte Bobcats in four games and then taking care of the Brooklyn Nets in five games.
The Heat never made it a priority to be the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. This team was content with being the number two seed, as long as it made the playoffs, which was practically a no-brainer. The Pacers on the other hand, made it goal number one to be the top seed. Now it is time for a rivalry two years in the making to add another chapter.
There are two x-factors of this series. The x-factor for the Pacers is simply coming to the arena every single night of the series and coming focused and ready to play. The x-factor for the Heat is to stay the course and continue onward towards the ultimate goal; the NBA title. This is what the Pacers wanted all year long, so let’s see how they fare when they get what they wished for.