Last year, the Indiana Pacers pushed the Miami Heat to the brink. Luckily for the Heat, Game 7 was in Miami and the experience of the defending champs lifted them to a dominate victory over the Pacers.
This year, through 7 games, the Pacers are a commanding 7-0 while the Heat have struggled out of the gate to 4-3. While it may be early and still November, it isn't keeping the Pacers from communicating their goals. Roy Hibbert went on Twitter and said he wants to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award and he thinks that Paul George should be in MVP consideration.
The Pacers aren't being shy that they believe the reason why they weren't in the NBA Finals is because Game 7 wasn't in Indiana. And they want Game 7 in Indiana this year.
What they've said:
"We believe in this locker room that we can get the No. 1 seed and we started the year with that attitude," said Pacers forward David West. "The fact that Game 7 of the conference finals wasn't in our home building we felt was the difference in a trip to the Finals, and we're going to do everything in our power to get a Game 7 in our building. And we have to start from the beginning of the season."
And it's not coming just from the the vocal and confident David West, it's also coming from their head coach.
"If we're going to have playoff success, having home-court advantage would give us an edge," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We were 8-1 at home in the playoffs last year. To lose a Game 7 on the road, that's a tough environment. We're trying for that No. 1 seed. We're going for it."
The Pacers have been impressive so far this season. With the addition of Luis Scola and C.J. Watson to the bench the Pacers have improved their biggest weakness from last season, and George looks improved enough to be a true superstar. The Pacers will be the most difficult challenge for the Heat. And what makes it more interesting is that the Pacers truly have only one gear, like the Bulls, they just play hard all the time. This means they will be consistent, and if the Heat slack too much they may not get the number one seed.
But don't get too worried here. Two of the last three years the Heat haven't had home court advantage in the conference and yet have made it to the Finals all three years. Miami is capable of winning road playoff games and they have done so in every single playoff series the Big 3 have played together. And remember, beating the Heat 4 out of 7, despite of location will always be difficult.
The Heat may be off to a slower start than the Pacers, but they aren't far from the rest of the East. In fact, other than the Pacers, no one in the East has a better record (4-3 Philadelphia is right there with them). And you know as well as I do that the guys from South Beach will get it together soon. And most importantly, you know that winning streaks in November mean very little to winning in May and June.
But one thing is sure, if the Pacers keep playing like the are, despite their weak schedule, they may win that #1 seed in the East and make this years path for the Heat even harder than it is. But would you want it any other way?
Nonetheless, let's see what else the Pacers decide to boast about before ever beating Miami in the playoffs.