The Heat lost in overtime to the Bulls last night and, suddenly, they are nearly as close to third in the east as they are to first. With the Heat, the Magic, the 76ers, and even, at times, the Hawks looking like they don't want to finish the season strong, the Pacers (who have won 6 of 7) are suddenly looking like a strong contender in the East. Don't be surprised if they actually make a run at the #2 seed.
If you look at their remaining schedule, you'll see that, other than a home date with the Bulls in their season finale (a game where the BUlls may not even have anything to play for and may rest starters), their toughest games are home-and-homes against the 76ers and the Bucks. Hardly an intimidating schedule. The Heat, meanwhile, have lost 3 of 4 and have to face the Bulls, the Rockets, the Celtics in Boston, and the Knicks in New York. If the Heat drop 3or four of those and choke against a lesser team (not likely, but they aren't looking great right now) and the Pacers win all but one (again, not likely, but indeed possible), this race could actually become a race.
Regardless, the Pacers are gonna make the playoffs and chances are good that they get home-court advantage for their first round match. They can win any night, home or road, and are a scary matchup for the following reasons:
-19-8 at home (3rd in the East)
-Road wins against Bulls, Celtics, Lakers, Magic, Mavs, and Rockets
-Home wins against Thunder, Heat, Hawks, and Celtics
-A Center (Roy Hibbert) that can get the best of his matchup any given night
-Several consistent shooters in case a couple guys get cold (Granger, George, West, Collison, Hill, Jones, Barbosa, Hansbrough)
-Top ten in FT%, 3PT%, Scoring D, FG% Defense, and Rebounding (Totals and Margin)
-An undeniably good coach
-Solid playoff experience from last year's series with the Bulls
I rest my case
i will bet you my right hand that the Heat don't drop to #3. you only know what my right hand means to me
That was only funny the first time
You say there are just as close to 1st as 3rd place, but they are up by 5 games while the Pacers only have 8 left to play. Even if the Pacers finish the season 7-1 Miami would have to finish the season 2-7 in their last 9 games. Since the HEAT are playing the Bobcats, Nets, Raptors and the Wizards twice I feel like it is 100% not going to happen. The Pacers do have a much easier schedule, but they should be more focused on not letting the Celtics catch up to them.
The heat will bounce back and that won't happen. Plus like Tyrober says, The heat are going to be playing mostly weaker teams from here on, so its not going to happen like that. Though I worry for the heat this year. They've had problems with top tiers, which makes me think. How will they do againt the bulls and celtics in the playoffs?
I might be wrong in my perception of the Heat, but I feel they've mailed it in since the All Star break. They just care about winning in the playoffs, and they have mailed it in until then. Doesn't mean I think they'll turn it around come playoff time, but I think they'll be a more determined basketball team.
My brother said the same thing. I've felt that the only teams they get up for are the teams they would have to play against in the near future. They got up for OKC, and last night the Bulls. They already addressed they were tired.
As a Knick fan I would only hope and wish we landed the #7 seed and the Pacers got the #2 seed, but that's wishful thinking.
The knicks wouldn't have a shot against the Pacers either
Well, if they played Miami at least once, I could see where you're comng from, but I don't think Miami will collapse that badly down the stretch. However I do see the logic, considering they play teh Celts and the Bulls once more, Miami struggles against the good teams, and I wouldn't be surprised if they lost those games plus the NY game, but I still think Miami will take care of their buisness against a couple bad teams. In addition to those good teams, Miami plays some rally crapy teams like the Wiz twice, the Bobcats, Nets, and Raptors, so I think that they will win at leat 4 of those 5, and let's say they fall to Boston, Chicago, and Houston, and win against the Knicks, or let's say they go 4-5 in this stretch, the Pacers would still have to win all of those games to even tie, so although there is a chance, it's very slim, and remember, Miami might have a lot of flaws, but at the end of the day they have the best player in the game, another top 10 player, and another top 25 plus shooters and good defense, however their gameplan is crap.
The Pacers won't pass the Heat in the standings, but they could meet them in the second round of the playoffs. Based on the current standings, the Pacers would play the Magic and I like their chances, especially with Dwight Howard's back issues.
During an earlier thread, I wrote the Pacers would hit their stride at the right time. This was a team that had new coaches on the staff, plus Frank Vogel coaching his first full year. Then you had to give David West time to get healthy and comfortable. Throw in other new acquisitions like George Hill, Leandro Barbosa, etc.
They've come together very nicely. Rotations are set. Bench is consistent. Chemistry looks very good. They rebound. They defend. They make their free-throws. They can score in the half-court and can play an inside/outside game through Hibbert/West and Granger. Good offensive balance. All recipes for playoff success.
Obviously, the Bulls and the Heat are the cream of the crop, but the Pacers and Celtics are teams I wouldn't want to play. The Pacers will give the Heat a tough playoff series. I expect the Heat will see more of the team they faced in their 3rd matchup this season and not the first two... The Pacers are an even better team now than they were during that 3rd matchup.