Brace yourself for war, Heat Nation — the first shots have been fired between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers even if Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals doesn’t start until tomorrow.
According to ESPN’s Mike Wallace, Frank Vogel said the Heat “are just the next team,” in the Indiana Pacers’ way of reaching the NBA Finals.
This isn’t the first time Vogel has had something controversial to say about the Miami Heat; last year he was fined $15,000 for calling the Heat “the biggest flopping team in the NBA.”
LeBron James responded to Vogel’statement:
“We’re not just another team,” James said. “I don’t understand what he’s saying. But we’re not just another team. That’s not true. He said we’re just another team in their way. We’re a great team. If we’re just another team, you really don’t prepare for just another team. You have to prepare for us.”
If Vogel and the Pacers want any chance of beating the defending champions — they should keep quiet and stop creating bulletin-board material. James did say the Heat wouldn’t need any extra motivation and they would be ready for the Pacers come Wednesday night — but after Vogel’s statements, you can be sure that LeBron and Co. will come out fired up.
Everyone has been pointing out that Indiana won the regular season series 2-1 but people keep forgetting that Miami had to play in Indiana twice while Indiana played in Miami once. The home team won each game during the regular season, so the Pacers’ 2-1 “advantage” over the Heat says less about how much better the Pacers are than the Heat, and more about how important home court advantage is between these two teams — and luckily, the Miami Heat have home court advantage in this series.
Vogel’s chatter reminds us of one thing: this series will be a dog fight — and will be decided on the court — not in the media. I expect the series to be extremely intense and extremely physical The Pacers will try to emulate the Chicago Bulls blueprint – but let’s not forget where that got them — the Bulls were sent home after five games.
Talk is cheap, Frank Vogel — if the Miami Heat don’t slip up in Game 1 again, the Heat will win this series in five.