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Pacers at Heat headline Friday night games with playoff implications

Apr 11, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

LeBron James Paul George Getty Images

Friday night’s Pacers/Heat showdown is not going to tell is much about how a likely Eastern Conference Finals between these teams plays out — there is no Dwyane Wade for the Heat, for one. Also, both teams are going to run things a little vanilla, not overplay any sets or match ups they like and tip their hands for future playoff strategy (think NFL preseason offense).

But it does matter. A lot.

The Pacers have struggled on the road at points this season (20-19), which is why their focus all season has been getting the No. 1 seed and home court throughout the East. They want Game 7 against the Heat in their building — to get that they need to beat the Heat on the road Friday night.

Miami sits half a game back of the Pacers (one fewer wins) but with a softer schedule the rest of the way — if Miami wins they control their own destiny. Miami closes out with the Hawks, Wizards and Sixers — all very winnable games. Beat the Pacers and the top seed is yours for the taking.

For the Pacers, win and you are 1.5 games up on Miami and Indiana owns the tiebreaker — win this and the Pacers’ magic number for the top seed is one.

Add to that these teams have a nice rival growing and we should see an intense, physical game. It should feel like a playoff game. LeBron James will attack the rim and Roy Hibbert will be there to greet him. Lance Stephenson will make amazing plays or foolish plays, or most likely a little of both. Chris Bosh will float around on the perimeter but make plays. It will get chippy.

It’s going to be fun. Just don’t think the playoff match ups between these two will look like this.

Here are a few other games of playoff import on Friday night:

• Washington at Orlando/Charlotte at Boston: Right now Washington and Charlotte are deadlocked for the 6/7 seed. Nobody wants the 7 seed. With the six seed you likely face Toronto or Chicago in the first round — two good but flawed teams where the Wizards or Bobcats stand a chance to extend the series and maybe, with a little luck, get a win. Land in the 7 slot and you become chum in the first round for Miami or Indiana. Expect both Washington and Charlotte to play with some desperation.

• Philadelphia at Memphis/Phoenix at San Antonio. As of right now Memphis is the 9 seed in the West, one game back of the Suns. Memphis is going to beat Philadelphia tonight because, well, Philadelphia. Have you seen them? That puts pressure on the Suns to come up with a win against the team with the best record in the NBA — a Spurs team resting Tim Duncan and Tony Parker on the second night of a back-to-back, but still a Spurs team that plugs in its reserves and keeps on moving forward like the Terminator 3000s that they are. (They will not stop. Ever.) The Suns really need a win because they have the Mavericks — the other team playing musical chairs for the final playoff slots in the West — on Saturday night. Oh, just a reminder that the Grizzlies have the tie breaker over the Suns. So yes, the Suns need wins.

  1. lenbias34pt - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Kurt i appreciate your article, but disagree with the idea this is in any way a preseason NFL type setting.
    Each team will put everything on the table in an effort to win this game. 100 % everything.

    The difference of an extra home game cant’ be overstated, and you sure enough know this.

    I believe the story going into this game is how serious Wade’s injury situation is and the hard fact that with him hobbled the Heat may not make it to the Pacer series.
    Gonna be a can’t miss battle.tonight boys!!!!

  2. antistratfordian - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    These games are always a blast. Les Pacers are 10-15 on the road since Jan 1 and 3-7 on the road in their last 10, so it’s going to be tough for them. They’ll have to be hot from three point land to challenge for the W.

    Home court advantage is probably not going to matter between these two teams if the Pacers offense doesn’t change dramatically. If they can’t figure that out they won’t make it far enough for it to matter.

  3. cantonbound13 - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Let’s go Pacers!!!

    • leahcima1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      What a loser. Even when this jerk roots for the first place team he loses.

  4. rodge1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    Will be a fun game to watch for a change… Predictions: Heat lose and the haters will come out and talk about how the Heat are finished. Heat win and the haters will come out and talk about how the Heat are finished. Different year same haters…

    • cantonbound13 - Apr 11, 2014 at 9:13 PM

      Different year but same bandwagon fans that leave games early when their “team” is losing.

      • leahcima1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:09 PM

        Yeh cantonbigmouth it does get a little boring winning year after year. Might as well get out to South Beach and party hardy before the riff raff like you show up. One year your Knicks will win something. Maybe the number one pick in the lottery. lol

  5. 25yearindyfan - Apr 11, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Who has said the Heat are finished? 100% of the hate has been directed towards the Pacers since the skid started. No one seems to care that Miami hasn’t been much better in that stretch. The Miami fans are very sensitive. If anyone states that any other team could possibly win it this year they are haters.

    • leahcima1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      What team do you think will win it 25yearindyfan? The Pacers? First they have to get out of the first round. Challenges, challenges, challenges. We’ve seen what the Heat are made of. Let’s see what the Pacers are made of.

  6. floridascuba1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    Wonder which bracket is easier? 1 seed or 2 seed.

  7. dolphindubs - Apr 11, 2014 at 9:43 PM


    Surely you realize that every team that has ever gone through a dominant stretch has collected bandwagon fans along the way. EVERY. SINGLE. TEAM. Every single sport. It just happens.

    Picking on those type fans is kind of petty.

    • pacersfan1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      But if you jump on a bandwagon because a team are champions then you are fake. If you stick with a team during the good and bad times that is a real fan. That is why most all heat fans are like a unicorn. They are make believe.

      • leahcima1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:22 PM

        They not only make believe but they listen to the big mouth Pacers talk trash all year how they’re going to be the top seed. Only trouble is when the money is on the line the Hoosier Have Nots fold. It’s not the size of your mouth cantonjerk, pacerfan1, it’s the size of your heart.

    • leahcima1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      dolphindubs surley your realize that cantonjerk just says his s**t because he never has had a winner so he makes stuff up to get attention. He lives in a town full of winners and he’s a loser. If you went a lifetime as a loser you’d be desperate to hit back wouldn’t you?

      • cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:55 AM

        Once again you prove how idiotic you are. I never had a winner? I grew up a Yankee fan, you know the franchise that has won the most championships in all of sports. Once again all you do is blurt out nonsense & stupid comments.

      • leahcima1 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:48 AM

        That’s funny. You might have been a Yankee fan but you NEVER grew up.

  8. dolphindubs - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:13 PM


    Nope. Thats the problem right there. Haters (which have bandwagon members as well and should be held to the same standard) assume that the majority of fans during a teams dominant stretch are bandwagon fans. Thats a piss-poor assumption.

  9. dolphindubs - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:19 PM


    I dont know. I’ve never went a lifetime as a loser!

    (Borat voice): “Uhhh high five!”

    • leahcima1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      Only undefeated team in professional sports history is ——? That’s right – the ’72 Fins.

      • cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 5:02 AM

        Still holding on to 72? That was over 40 years ago! Hey I’m a Dolphin fan , the only team I support down here, but even I would never say something like that knowing the team hasn’t done anything in over 40 years.
        All I know is all you bandwagon fans will disappear in June after your South Beach Flamers fail to win this year. King PED will have a major decision, do I stay & let Diva Wade ride my coattail or do I try to cowardly team up with another all star & continue my overrated legacy?

    • cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:56 AM

      Quoting Borat? I see who the real loser is.

  10. 25yearindyfan - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    There is no chance the Pacers will win it. But Miami fans get very sensitive when anyone states that the top of the west is far superior to the east. I’d hesitate to pick Miami over SA or OKC.

    • leahcima1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:26 PM

      Have any idea what the Heats record is against the West this year. I guess not from what you just said. Look it up.

      • cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 5:10 AM
        You bandwagon fans are a joke around the country!

    • miamatt - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      Get over yourself. It is a vocal minority that gets their panties twisted over a little trash talk, and taking shots at fans you’ll never meet is as small and petty as it gets. As a Heat fan, I’ll admit I would be awfully nervous about a Spurs rematch, though I’d still imagine Miami finds a way. As far as OKC is concerned, I would breath a sigh of relief at that matchup. The Heat would roll ’em up and smoke ’em out. Without question.

      • cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 5:07 AM

      • miamatt - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        Congrats on being competent enough at drooling over the keyboard to find like-minded trolls. It touches me that the Miami Heat and their fans mean so much to you. Cheers!

  11. cantonb0und13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    Nets > Pacers

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