In 2014, LeBron James and the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals to go to their fourth straight NBA Finals. In doing so they ended a rivalry that had persisted for three seasons, and also my nightmares of Danny Granger, Paul George and Roy Hibbert.
From 2012-2014 the Pacers and Heat matched up in the NBA Playoffs three times. Once in the Eastern Conference semis and twice in the Eastern Conference Finals. Over that period of times, the Heat/Pacers rivalry delivered us classics. I’m talking about, Dwyane Wade and LeBron combining for 70 points, Udonis Haslem nearly fighting all of the Pacers and well....this:
Over those three seasons, the Pacers and Heat battled hard for seeding and push the limits of Erik Spoelstra’s small-ball renaissance. As a fan, they were the team I feared the most. They made things incredibly difficult for Miami, I mean there’s a reason why Roy Hibbert was one of the most feared big men in the league, earning All-Defensive Second Team honors in 2014.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Echoes of Wade laughing off Lance Stephenson have taken the form of Jimmy Butler blowing kisses at TJ Warren.
After years of peace time, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat hate each other again. But instead of fighting each other at the top of the Eastern Conference they’re now fighting each other in the middle of the pack heading into the postseason.
Also stoking the flames are the rumours that Pacers star, Victor Oladipo has Miami on his mind. Not in the “I can’t wait to beat the Heat!” kind of way, but more in the “I’d love to put on the black and red and roll down Dwyane Wade Blvd.” kind of way.
So where do we go from here? There’s no denying that the Pacers are a good team. Brogdon and Sabonis have made them a real threat. Right now, it’s hard to say what this new Pacers/Heat rivalry will evolve into. But one thing is for certain they are about to see a lot of each other in the bubble.
Currently the Heat rank just above the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Standings in the fourth seed. So these seeding games actually have some importance. Also, we never got to see Jimmy’s circled game in from March 20th, so you know these games will have “heat” (I’m sorry) to them. Whatever the case, this has the makings of a resurged Heat/Pacers rivalry. We’ll find out the truth about this new era when the Heat and Pacers get at it on August 10th.