For the past two seasons, the Indiana Pacers have met the Miami Heat in the playoffs. Each time, Miami prevailed en route to an NBA championship. Could the third time be the charm for the team from America’s Heartland? Most analysts say no.
First, we have to look at the method of play of the series as a whole. If the games tend to be the “pretty basketball style” with finesse scoring outbursts, the two-time defending champions could have an easy road to a fourth straight NBA Finals. However, if the games are “ugly”, gritty, defensive slugfests, the Pacers would have a decisive edge. With as much bad blood between these two teams, this series could, no will, get chippy and gritty. Its not a matter of if, but when.
The NBA is down to it’s final four: the conference finals. At this point it is known, especially for two teams meeting for the third straight year, the second of which in the Eastern Conference Finals, that the defensive presence overpowers the high octane scoring. Advantage, Indiana. Or is it? When playing against the most physically dominant player of the era, one must consider Indiana to be at a potential disadvantage. So, does that mean advantage, Miami? Not necessarily.
Teams guarding against LeBron James can never fully stop him, regardless of the matchup. What makes James great is his ability to use his vast skill set to exploit any matchup pitted against him. The Pacers are no exception, as his likely matchup, Paul George, is not nearly strong enough to defend James in the post. Advantage, Miami. The Pacers do though, have a matchup nightmare that will sway the series even more than James. The Miami Heat have no answer for Roy Hibbert. Yes, Greg Oden is on their roster, but lets be honest here. Not only can Oden not guard Roy, Oden can’t even stay on the floor for more than a few minutes at a time in short spurts. Advantage, Indiana.
Regardless of what anyone says about the Heat rolling through this series due to the Pacers inconsistency throughout this second half skid, one thing did remain the same. The Indiana Pacers play their hardest anytime they take the floor against the Miami Heat. This series will not be easy for Miami, but it won’t be any easier for Indiana. Can the Pacers finally overcome that obstacle residing in South Beach? That remains to be seen.