The Indiana Pacers have locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and they didn’t even have to break a sweat. The Pacers stumbled into the No. 1 spot by way of the Miami Heat’s loss to the Washington Wizards last night.
For all the talk of the importance of the No. 1 seed, no one really seems to want it. If the Heat wanted the top spot, why rest last night?
What’s interesting about the playoffs is that the top team likely has a tougher road to the Eastern Conference Finals than the two seed. As it stands right now, the Pacers will face Atlanta in the first round and the winner of the Chicago-Brooklyn series. Those are two of the hottest teams heading into the postseason. There is still a chance that No. 4 Chicago could jump over No. 3 Toronto as both have a game left to play.
The Heat will face Charlotte in the first round and then move on to play the winner of Toronto-Washington. What’s interesting is that by being in the two seed the Heat will completely avoid the Brooklyn Net, a team that swept the season series with them. The Heat don’t seem to care, but they tried awfully hard to make sure to avoid them in the postseason.
There is a scenario where Brooklyn could lose their final two games and Washington wins its last game and the Nets end up playing Toronto in the first round. If the Nets won, they’d face the Heat in the second round of the playoffs. It is highly unlikely, but still in the realm of possibilities.
Considering the way the Pacers have been playing for the past month, what does it say about the Heat that they weren’t able to lock up the top spot weeks ago. For all the praise of defending champions and the talent on the roster, the Heat don’t really seem to care about anything.
The Pacers really needed to ensure home court advantage at least through the Eastern Conference (they’re seven games behind the Spurs for best overall record). The Pacers have the best home record in the NBA at 35-6, but are a pathetic 20-20 on the road (14th in the NBA). With a loss on Wednesday at Orlando, they could drop below .500 on the road. A loss seems fairly likely as coach Frank Vogel should rest his starters.
Despite recent performances, the Pacers still have a good shot at making the conference finals and facing the Heat once again. They have been playing better lately and will have plenty of games, potentially 14, to right the ship before facing Miami.
Unfortunately the Pacers don’t have another home game to play this season and therefore won’t be able to cut down the nets to celebrate the No. 1 seed.