Just five days after blowing a four-point lead with three minutes left to the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat overtook the top spot in Eastern Conference standings with tonight’s 93-83 win vs the Toronto Raptors.
Since the Heat lost to the Pacers on March 26, they have won three-straight games by a total of 291-228 (63-point margin of victory).
On the other hand, Indiana has dropped their last three, failing to score 80 points against each the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs.
Indiana has seven games left and Miami has nine. According to playoffstatus.com, the Heat’s remaining schedule is the second easiest in the Eastern Conference while the Pacers’ remaining schedule is ranked 10th.
The two meet for the final regular season game on April 11 and, once again, Miami is in the driver’s seat and speeding down Biscayne Boulevard toward home-court advantage.
What’s most impressive about Miami taking the No. 1 seed is that the team has underplayed the home-court advantage all season long, while the Pacers have stated that it was their goal.
Bosh: "When the Pacers were talking, No. 1 seed… We were like, it's August. Calm down."
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) April 1, 2014
LeBron on being No. 1 in the East: "It doesn't feel like anything, actually. The standings are what they are. We haven't talked about it."
— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) April 1, 2014
Home-court is much more important to Indiana (19-18 on the road) than it is to the title-experienced Heat (22-16 on the road) and, even though Miami dropped it’s game against the Pacers just a few days ago, Indiana’s struggles have pushed them down the standings.
However, the Pacers are clearly a better team when playing the Heat. Most of that is because of the match up of Roy Hibbert inside, but it’s also the drive the Indiana has to beat Miami.
It will still be a hyper-competitive series should the two meet in the playoffs, considering the match up, history and what is at stake.
But this is the first time that the Heat have sat atop the Eastern Conference all season, and they may not feel like giving up the top of the mountain now that they can see what they have on the horizon.