For the past two seasons, the Indiana Pacers’ season has ended at the hands of the Miami Heat.
It’s commonplace in the NBA. It’s the way the league works. Nothing is given, it’s earned. It’s what the “Bad Boy” Pistons, Michael Jordan‘s Bulls and what Dwyane Wade and LeBron James all went through — just to name a few.
All of those teams eventually overcame their roadblocks on their way to a Championship, sooner or later. The Indiana Pacers could be the next team that falls under that circumstance.
Or, they could be the next team the Heat steamroll past on their way to a Three-Peat. Either way, it’s going to be telling about the Indiana Pacers.
They could either be the team that puts an end to the reign of tyranny that the Miami Heat have developed over the past four years, or they could be the team that didn’t end it. The team that failed. Another team that fell short in history — just another insignificant shooting star that misses its mark.
There’s only going to be one team that breaks the Miami Heat up. The Indiana Pacers have been building, for four seasons, behind drafts and offseason acquisitions to be that team. They’ve come close, they’ve learned and they’ve earned homecourt. They’re in position and exactly where they want to be. You couldn’t ask for a better shot, if you’re the Pacers.
All they have to do is finish.
It’s what differentiates the Champions from the finalists, the Kings from the Princes, the men from the boys and, ironically, the Heat from the Pacers. So far.
But in this occasion, there’s no more excuses.
The Pacers are not young, they’re not inexperience and they don’t have to win on the road. Not this time.
Roy Hibbert will have the matchup he wants — he averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game in last season’s playoffs against the Heat. The Pacers have developed Lance Stephenson into a future All-Star, Paul George was at one point this season the MVP of the League. They even added to their bench with Evan Turner. Frank Vogel has another year under his belt and knows what he’s getting into this time. He’s prepared, as are the Pacers.
And most importantly, the Pacers have been the consensus better team for the most part of this season.
As a team, you only get so many chances at a chip. When you fail to capitalize, next season isn’t a given that you’ll be back. Fortunately, the Pacers have managed to get a third shot at it — or at the Heat in this situation. However, this might be their last crack. After all, three strikes is all you get.
Indiana is down 0-2 in the count, and have two outs. They have one more swing at it, potentially.
Miami won’t be taken off guard this time. Indiana is going to have to earn it. They’re going to have to beat the Heat. Fairly and thoroughly. For four games. It’s now or never for the Pacers.
Ironically, this is also going to be their best chance. They better take advantage. They have to.