The Norman Transcript

Sports

May 18, 2014

Heat, Pacers eager for next playoff battle

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana and Miami spent a whole season hearing about the rematch.

Today, the two Eastern Conference heavyweights will meet in the most intriguing fight of the year.

There is the possibility of a head-to-head matchup between the world’s best player, LeBron James, and the NBA’s next young superstar, Paul George. There are battle lines drawn between Miami’s perimeter shooters and Indiana’s tough inside guys. There is history with Miami eliminating Indiana each of the past two seasons despite the Pacers pushing the Heat further than anyone expected both times, and, of course, everyone wants to see if the young challengers will derail Miami’s quest for a third straight NBA championship.

It’s no wonder this is the most anticipated matchup of the playoffs.

“Two best teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s that simple,” James said. “I mean both teams defend at a high level, both teams share the ball, both teams get into the paint, both teams have a desire to win, so that’s why it’s been equal.”

It’s taken three years to reach this point.

In the second round in 2012, the Pacers took a 2-1 lead only to see Miami rebound with three straight wins before winning the first title with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Last year, Indiana surprised everyone by pushing the Heat to the brink before faltering in a Game 7 loss as the Heat won a second straight crown.

This season, the Pacers made it clear from the start they wanted the No. 1 seed to assure Miami had to play in Indy if there was a Game 7. That long slog didn’t end until the third-to-last night of the regular season, and it’s the reason they’ll play Game 1 of this best-of-seven series at home.

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