Make no mistake, the Miami Heat know exactly who is standing between them and a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals — the wall that is 7’2” Roy Hibbert and his Indiana Pacers.
The Heat also know no game in December is going to determine the outcome of what is a seemingly inevitable Eastern Conference Finals matchup between those teams in late May.
So Miami heads into Wednesday night’s rematch with Indiana — the Pacers came from behind to win on their home court last week — not thinking about this being any kind of a statement.
Case in point — LeBron James remains a game-time decision with his sprained ankle and some other key Heat players will not be part of this game.
The Pacers are not at 100 percent either — coach Frank Vogel is ill and could miss the game. Plus they are still without Danny Granger.
The Heat will give lip service to playing their style and they will come out with a real effort Wednesday — a lot will fall to Chris Bosh, he has to nail 18 foot and longer jumpers to draw Roy Hibbert out of the paint, and he has to be strong on the boards.
Indiana has said before they want the No. 1 seed badly — if there is another Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals between these teams they want it at their place. That’s a good motivation; they seem more focused early this season than the Heat.
Still, the fact remains that regular season matchups of teams are poor indicators of postseason success. When these two teams meet in the playoffs they both will be very different teams — Indiana likely have Granger back (or whomever they trade him for) and the Heat will have several players in the lineup.
This game is more like the scripted early moves of a chess match; the real play will not come for a while. Still, this should be fun to watch.