There's a big game this Friday night at the AAA arena in Miami.
Yes, it involves the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Yes, it may decide the overall #1 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, just a week away from kicking off.
However, although the game looms large, it doesn't really matter who has the number one seed because it looks like the Pacers will not make it to the Conference Finals. They've been playing bad, or as Charles Barkley might say, borderline turrible basketball.
The game these two teams played on March 25 in Indiana really stands out when considering the rivalry this season. It was a Tuesday night national broadcast game and one of the most hyped-up all season. The Pacers, so pumped for the game, painted the seats in their arena with the slogan BEAT THE HEAT. It was a rough and tumble bloody war, a tough grind-it-out battle with the Pacers (barely) prevailing 84-83. However, it was a freak game due to the blown calls by the refs: Dwayne Wade hit a 3-pointer that the refs called off when his foot was clearly not on the line; LeBron James was absolutely attacked and the refs were not consistent with their flagrant calls; David West made a freak 3-pointer towards the end of the game. No excuses -- that Paul George dunk on LeBron was sick, but it was still a freak loss.
The Heat should've won.
More importantly, look at how the Heat responded after that game: they crushed Detroit (110-78), Milwaukee (88-67) and Toronto (93-83) and the couple of games they lost were by 1-point, against Minnesota (122-121) and Brooklyn (88-87). The game against the Nets was another freak game with the non-call on an obvious foul against LeBron at the end. Plus, we've been playing without Dwayne Wade.
Look at how the Pacers responded after the Heat game. They lost 5 of 7 including blowouts against Atlanta (107-88) and San Antonio (103-77) at home, and road blowouts against Cleveland (90-76) and Washington (91-78). After the Pacers barely beat the Heat, they couldn't score 80 points their next three games. That's turrible.
Win or lose on Friday, the Pacers are not our problem.
Home-court advantage is coming our way, either-or.
We need to worry about the Bulls or the Nets -- two seasoned teams who play us tough and will surely step-it-up in the Playoffs. Best case scenario will pit those two teams against each other in the first round so we don't have to worry about one of them. Everyone else in the East should hopefully be a warm-up for the Finals, barring any unforeseen injuries, or freak endings given away by the refs, who are out-for-us.