by Bert Beiswanger
The outcome of tonight’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat may have as much to do with which team wins the Eastern Conference as any game in the playoffs.
When LeBron James says tonight’s game is like a Game 7 scenario, the chips are officially on the table. Who wouldn’t want Game 7 on their home floor? If “King” James understands the significance of this, we all should.
With the Pacers being very clear all year that the No. 1 seed in the East was their regular season goal, the chips are officially on the table.
But with each passing game the past couple of months, the Indiana Pacers seemed to slip further and further away from their stated goal. Frankly, they haven’t looked capable of winning a first round series (ok, maybe second round series) let alone securing the No. 1 seed.
How bad has it gotten recently? Some fans and media have seriously started to try to justify the No. 2 seed possibly being better by not having to play the winner of what could be a No. 4/No. 5 match-up involving the Bulls and Nets. Are you kidding me? Folks, if you are worried about the Pacers chances against the Bulls or Nets in a seven game series with the Pacers having home-court advantage, you’re not going to like the Pacers’ odds in a seven game series in which Miami has home-court advantage.
No, you don’t get to have a season-long goal only to bail on that goal with a couple of games left to play – before you even know if you have or haven’t achieved it, mind you. You can only bail on that goal when you know you can’t achieve it. The chips are still on the table.
How bad has it gotten? Resting the starters and winning a game against the worst team in the league is being regarded as a possible momentum swing.
The Pacers have lost 12 of their last 20 games and are trying to rediscover the chemistry and swagger that once made them the NBA gold standard the first half of the season. The Heat? They’ve proven they can turn it up a notch at any time. They still have the best player in the league, especially at playoffs time.
Tonight, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is on the line. I have stated before and will state again: The Pacers need the No. 1 seed to win the Eastern Conference. The chips are officially on the table.
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