Everyone’s seen Sesame Street, right? And Cookie Monster, perhaps one of the top five characters of all-time (screw you, Elmo), is pretty well-known, even if you’ve lived in a third-world country or been raised Amish (in which case, you probably wouldn’t be checking out this preview or care too much about basketball).
Thinking about the Miami Heat (48-21) traveling to Indiana to face the Pacers (51-20), is like the Cookie Monster.
The anticipation is so great, that you struggle to wind up digesting any of it.
This game has so many subplots, both real and imagined, that a normal preview wouldn’t do it justice. So I made it easier for you (the reader) and I (the writer) by looking at four of the top issues surrounding tomorrow’s game and them comparing them to cookies. Y’know, for the sake of the whole theme.
Oreo Cookies – The Matchup in the Middle
The Oreo cookie brand has expanded in recent years but, make no mistake, it’s always about the stuff in the middle.
Similarly, the battle between Heat center Greg Oden and the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert could be the defining point of the game. Neither Oden or Hibbert dominate statistically, but the Pacers defense is anchored by their 7’2” All-Star. Oden’s size can definitely be factor but, most importantly, if he can draw early fouls on Hibbert that will force Indiana to use its bench and disrupt their substitution patterns; this would greatly benefit Miami’s ability to attack the rim. Look for the Heat to feed Oden in the low post early in the game and challenge Hibbert.
The Black & White Cookie – Blending the Roster Additions
This shortbread cookie, covered by equal parts vanilla and chocolate, is the dessert that comedian Jerry Seinfeld claimed could solve racial relations:
That’s probably overstating it a bit. But it is a perfect symbol for how the Pacers have changed their roster fairly-significantly in anticipation of a playoff battle with Miami. Indiana made several changes since last season’s 7-game playoff battle, acquiring Luis Scola, C.J.Watson, Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum among others. Meanwhile, the Heat’s biggest (figuratively and literally) addition has been adding Greg Oden, now the team’s starting center.
Blending these new pieces has been a challenge for the Pacers. If only they could look to the cookie…
Thin Mints – Playoff Standings are Important/Meaningless
I’ll go on record as saying I don’t like the combination of chocolate and mint; plenty of people agree with me. But these Girl Scout concoctions are so ridiculously-popular, I’d be crazy to not acknowledge their power over people.
The battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference can be seen just as subjectively – it all depends on who you ask.
The Pacers have made this a priority all season. Meanwhile, the Heat have benched their second-best player (Dwyane Wade) for a number of games and still continue to tinker with their rotations as the regular-season unwinds. That #1 seed in the playoffs? Yawn.
But a recent article by the Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick suggests that Miami could deal Indiana a major psychological blow by somehow – and somewhat effortlessly – winding up with the East’s best record. If the Heat feels that strongly about it remains to be seen. But the fact is Miami is only two games back of Indiana and plays the Pacers twice before the end of the regular season. The Heat’s point of view isn’t as important as how vital Indiana sees this as part of their playoff success.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie – Consistent Greatness
There’s no disputing it. You can flirt with that minty bit of evil, you can make eye contact with the oatmeal cookie by the bar but the one you come home to is always going to be the chocolate chip cookie.
And that’s what this game is. There’s other issues at stake but this is still a fight between two teams that really don’t like each other. There are other challengers to the Eastern Conference throne but these two teams have been the best all season. So if it’s in December, late March or a game 7 in the playoffs, the chance to see Miami and Indiana square off is always consistently great, the very best of a long regular season.
So enjoy the game, and treat yourself to a cookie or dozen – just keep the crumbs off the floor.
Watch the telecast of the game beginning at 8 P.M. on ESPN or Sun Sports from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.