After lack of energy and obvious signs of fatigue, Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel decided it was best to rest his starters Wednesday night vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. It is not their main goal any longer, but Indiana would still love to grab that No. 1 seed from the Miami Heat, and have that Game 7 at home in the Eastern Conference Finals assuming both teams make it to that point.
Vogel was lucky to play a team with the worst record in the NBA with his starters in need of rest because they were able to get a much-needed win. The bench played well, but were all tied up at 102 in the final seconds of regulation. Chris Copeland came to the rescue as he hit a floater with only 1.2 seconds remaining. Milwaukee had no timeouts and wasn’t able to heave up a shot before time expired.
Although the bench has had trouble scoring at times throughout the season, they played very well with starting minutes Wednesday night. Luis Scola led Indiana with 24 points and nine rebounds, and Evan Turner was just behind him with 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Copeland had 18 points off the bench on 7-8 shooting in only 17 minutes.
After the Heat’s 107-102 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana has regained the No. 1 seed, leading Miami by 1/2 a game. Just to make the story line that much better, the Pacers travel down to Miami to play the Heat on Friday for the last time of the regular season, with Indiana having an upper-hand in the season series at two games to one.
Although the winner of this game will not clinch the No. 1 seed, it is a very important game to win as there are only a few left, meaning every game is important.
As long as Indiana’s starters got the rest they needed, they should have no problem retaining the No. 1 seed and coasting through the first two rounds of the playoffs to meet Miami once again in the ECF, assuming some time off was the problem all along.
This next week should be very entertaining to watch, yet very stressful for the players and coaches involved.