It’s only been a year, but things haven’t simmered down between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. LeBron James got pissed off hearing a comment Frank Vogel never made, which didn’t disturb some reporters letting James know about it. We’ll probably be hearing plenty of trash talk from the other side soon enough. It’ll be a lot messier than it is out West, on the court and in the media as well.
The Miami Heat needed some huge performances from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the Eastern semifinals last season in order to get past the Indiana Pacers. They struggled with Roy Hibbert, as they will once again in the conference finals this year. Paul George makes life hard for anyone, as he did on Carmelo Anthony during the previous playoff series. But the Pacers need to avoid getting distracted, and trying to win this series by being uber-aggressive through the media instead of the court.
Because calling the Heat floppers or Lance Stephenson trying to get into James’ head isn’t going to work. Even without Chris Bosh, the Heat found a way to simply power through, and the Pacers need to remember what worked for them in their two home wins over the Heat during the regular season, instead of trying to win through psychological warfare. It’s not going to work.
In any case, it seems James is already fired up. A reporter told him that Vogel said (which he didn’t), that the Miami Heat are just another team. James couldn’t let that one be left hanging above his head.
We’re not just another team. I don’t understand what he’s saying. But we’re not just another team. It’s not true. We’re a great team. We’re very confident. We’ll be ready for them. But if we’re just another team, you really don’t prepare for just another team. We’re not just another team. You got to be prepared for us.
James hasn’t really needed to go into superstar mode so far in the postseason. The Heat’s defense, be it shutting down both Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings in the first series, or by handling the Bulls’ physicality and extra short depth chart, has done well enough to give James enough moments of not having to try and force the game by scoring on his own. Things will probably looks a little bit different against the Pacres, who pose a different kind of offensive challenge.
If the Pacers think that getting down and dirty is the way to go, taking a loot at the Bulls’ series against the Heat shows it’s not exactly the best of solutions. Yes, Miami did stutter in game 1 and had a hard time closing the series in game 5. But them clinching the series was never in doubt, and the Pacers have enough advantages to try and make the most of before they deploy a few negative tactics. They’re underdogs, but this isn’t a series that’s impossible to win right from the start.
They’ve been difficult enough to beat during the regular season, especially at home. They’ve actually improved in the postseason thanks to the Knicks making them look good. There should be no reason to change their approach too drastically just because they’re facing a team their head coach and some of their players can’t stand. It won’t get them anywhere, certainly not into the NBA finals.