Tomorrow afternoon on ABC begins another chapter of the playoff showdown between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat. If the last few seasons are any precursor, we should be in for a heck of a series, although many outlets are picking the Heat to advance with some ease. Last season, the same was thought, yet we all saw the Pacers push them to edge, and having to play Game 7 on the road seemed to be their downfall; this season, that changes.
From day one of the season, this Pacers team was looking forward to having home-court advantage in playoffs games against the Heat. This season, the two teams split their four meetings with the home team winning each game, proving even more that the Pacers could have a key advantage to this series. As important as playing in your home area is, the Pacers have struggled there in the postseason so far; they are just 3-4 on their home court and 5-1 on the road. As skewed as those numbers seem, it’s still more comforting to have more games in your own arena.
The Heat are on a different level than what the Pacers have seen to this point. The Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards had some impressive games, but defeating those two teams at this point in the postseason hardly feels like much of an accomplishment. The real test is going up against the team that has spoiled their seasons the last two years, and this time they hope to see their fortunes change.
It may seem like a broken record, but the play of center Roy Hibbert is by far the most important factor in the Pacers’ success in the coming games. In the two wins they have against the Heat this year, Hibbert has a combined 45 points on 17-of-30 shooting — and in the two losses this season, he has just 11 total points. He needs to be a factor not only in scoring the ball, but as an anchor in the middle when LeBron James wants to take the ball to the rim.
No matter which team you are rooting for, how can you not be excited for the next few weeks of NBA action? The Heat and Pacers will be a main reason for that, especially if Indiana can make this a series.