The Pacers have played a few games so far this season that had a playoff feel from the opening tip. But for their game on Sunday against the Miami Heat, the off day before the game had a playoff feel.
Lots of media gathering lots of quotes from both teams expressing a basic level of respect for their opponents while remaining confident and ready to play.
Prior to the Miami's two losses in Indy, LeBron James talked up the Heat's intent to quiet the Pacers and any hopes they had of showing they could hang with the Heat. This time around, LBJ is taking a different tack by dismissing the Pacers as a rival since they haven't beaten the Heat in a playoff series. Whatevs 6.
The Heat have improved their level of play since the two losses in Indy. For one, Dwyane Wade has been much stronger through the winning streak which makes for a lethal compliment with how well LeBron has been playing. As for the advantage the Pacers have in the front court, Chris "Birdman" Andersen was a recent addition to the roster for the second game in Indy and is now part of the rotation.
Birdman's size and activity inside will help minimize the Pacers advantage, but if David West shows up with his shot falling, there is still no player on the roster, save LeBron that can handle DWest around the bucket. West made the Pacers go in the second win with 30 points and five assists.
The game is definitely a heat check game for the Pacers, which may better be judged by the effort and level of execution the Pacers can deliver against the highly motivate champs on their home floor than by the final score.
Check out the links: