The crowd was chanting exactly what the Pacers not so secretly wanted. They may or may not admit it, but the chance to beat the Miami Heat on the road to a championship would be a win-win providing revenge and a shot at a title that the Pacers thought they missed out on last year.
They felt like they blew their opportunity in 2012 when they squandered a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. But after Saturday night they’ll get the matchup of Team Hollywood versus Team Blue Collar — at least according to the words of rivals and the big blue letters pressed across their yellow chests.
Now that might not sound as flashy as the Big Three on Broadway, but plenty of people have been looking forward to this series ever since last season’s testiness.
There were technical fouls, flagrant fouls, suspensions and hands around necks in every form fashionable. And this year is setting up to be no different. Media outlets have already begun to spark the tension by touting LeBron James’ response to Pacers coach Frank Vogel.
“We’re not just another team,” James said (via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel). “I don’t understand what he’s saying. But we’re not just another team. It’s not true.”
That reaction prompted some to misinterpret James’ words as a spin on the old Michael Jordan hype tactic. Make up a snub to motivate — even if it’s not true. But that wasn’t what this was. Vogel’s statement about the Heat being “the next team in our way” wasn’t the “just another team” quote that they fed LeBron, but it was pretty dismissive in it’s own right.
Inadvertent or not, James was baited into making the series layoff a little more interesting. And that’s a win-win for everyone watching.
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Richard Nurse is a Miami Heat columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr.