As the season comes to a close and the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat prepare to do battle for the No. 1 seed in the East, it is important to take a look at the standings in the Eastern Conference and how each team has positioned itself for a playoff run. Currently the Pacers have a half-game advantage over the rival Heat, which makes tonight’s battle even more important.
These teams should make easy work of their first round opponent, mostly due to the incompetence of the teams in the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff standings (especially compared to the Western Conference). The second round gets a little trickier, however, and there are several teams who may be a road block for either one of the conference’s elite.
The matchup to watch for the two teams would be the 4/5 matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls. Either one of these teams could present matchup problems against the Heat or Pacers. Miami should be very afraid of the Nets, who swept the regular season series against the Heat this season. The Pacers should also be extremely wary of Brooklyn (the Nets have been one of the NBA’s best since the All-Star Break), but Chicago would be an even tougher matchup for Indiana. The Bulls were the first team to defeat the Pacers this season and have a long history with Indiana that could work in their favor.
That is why the No. 2 seed matters for both of these teams. The Pacers, and the Heat for that matter, will be better off facing the Toronto Raptors, who currently hold the No. 3 seed, even though Toronto has been impressive as well this season. The No. 1 seed comes with a lot of perks, most importantly home-court advantage, but the matchups that come with it this season make it considerably less valuable.