Even with the Miami Heat up 3-2 in their Eastern Conference Finals battle with the Indiana Pacers, you get the sense that this is a do-or-die game for both teams involved. For the Pacer’s it’s obvious: lose Game 6 and the series is over. The hard-fought battle to grab home court advantage throughout the East will have been a complete waste of time, and the “little brother-big brother” scenario will once again take full form as the Heat head to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance.
The Pacers’ situation is apparent, but what about the defending champs? Only one more win stands between them and a fourth consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals. This seems like a surefire scenario, except for one key issue: what if the Miami Heat lose Game 6? That specific loss could be extremely detrimental to the Heat for multiple reasons. For one, the Pacers are a team that thrive on confidence. The Heat had essentially stripped that away by winning three straight games in the series, but allowing them to win Game 5 has undoubtedly given the Pacers a huge confidence boost. Just imagine what a Game 6 victory in Miami would do for their confidence levels.
How would the Heat respond to a suddenly confident Pacers team on the road? Although the Heat have been miraculous this post-season, they haven’t really run into any teams legitimate enough to give them a real fight in the playoffs. Playing a Game 7 on the road against the league’s best defensive team would be their first real challenge in these playoffs. Although the Heat as a team are extremely confident no matter the scenario, they should look to avoid playing out this one.
The Heat will have to play with the high intensity required to close out this series against the Pacers. That is the only positive outcome for them — a loss tonight could turn this series completely on its head and give the Pacers enough life to finally knock the Heat out of the playoffs. That why the Pacers wanted home court advantage — for a Game 7 scenario. That is one the Heat will look to avoid tonight.
Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for RantSports.com.
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