Can we just fast-forward ahead to the Pacers/Heat Eastern Conference Finals?
(I suppose something could derail that still, but let’s hope not. The fact is the drop off in the East is so severe after those two teams that if one of those top two teams gets knocked off for injuries or whatever reason the East playoffs become a coronation, not a contest.)
As of Jan. 17 the Pacers have a four-game lead over Miami for the best record in the East, which speaks to the focus the two teams have shown so far this season in trying to secure that top spot. Miami is fully capable of what they did last year, throwing up 27 straight wins and flying past Indy, but right now the Pacers want the home court and are focused on getting it.
“We don’t,” George said. “I mean, we know how well we play at home. We’re one of the best teams in the postseason last year defending our home court. We just know how big home-court advantage is when it comes down to postseason. That’s one of our main goals this year is to lock up the first seed so we can have the opportunity to play at home throughout the whole playoffs.”
Miami is the two-time defending NBA champion and has done that with some big road wins, including Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals over the Pacers last season. They are capable of winning anywhere.
But Indiana stands a better chance of beating them at home — and the Pacers are focused on getting that advantage in a way the Heat are not.