Posted January 16, 2014

Paul George: Heat won’t beat Pacers in playoffs without home-court advantage

Ben Golliver, Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Paul George
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

LeBron James (left) and Paul George (right) seem headed for a conference finals showdown. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

All signs point to an epic Eastern Conference finals rematch between the Heat and Pacers, as the East’s top two teams have already separated themselves from the rest of the pack by more than seven games. The 2013 conference finals were decided in Miami’s American Airlines Arena when the Heat blew out the Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 to advance to the Finals. That loss has clearly stuck with the Indiana organization, which is seeking its first Finals appearance since 2000 and its first NBA title.

Entering Thursday’s action, Indiana possessed the best record in the NBA, a status that, if maintained, would guarantee home-court advantage in a potential match-up with Miami and throughout the postseason. That their 2012-13 season ended on Miami’s court, and not their own, has served as a point of motivation and focus for the Pacers this season.

When asked by Showtime’s Jim Rome this week if the Heat can beat the Pacers without home-court advantage this season, All-Star forward Paul George said he doesn’t see that happening.

“We don’t,” George said. “I mean, we know how well we play at home. We’re one of the best teams in the postseason last year defending our home court. We just know how big home-court advantage is when it comes down to postseason. That’s one of our main goals this year is to lock up the first seed so we can have the opportunity to play at home throughout the whole playoffs.”

While George isn’t exactly engaging in chest-thumping trash-talk here, his point is clearly stated. Last year, Indiana was 8-1 at home during the 2013 playoffs, with their lone loss coming to — you guessed it — Miami.

In a recent interview with CBS Sports Radio, Pacers coach Frank Vogel elaborated on what’s behind his team’s night-to-night focus.

“We’ve got a goal that we’re hanging onto right now that’s kind of driving us each night, and that’s to earn home-court advantage,” Vogel said. “We think it could be a difference-maker come playoff time against some of these teams. … We understood what the Miami Heat accomplished last year, winning 66 games (and) going on a (27)-game win streak. We feel like that could easily happen again at any time, so we never feel safe about whatever kind of lead we have in the standings. We feel like every single night could be the difference between having home-court advantage and not having it. So our guys are really keeping that laser focus.”

In making three consecutive Finals appearances and winning back-to-back titles, Miami has prevailed in just about every manner and just about everywhere. Who could forget the Heat’s Game 6 victory over the Celtics in Boston in 2012? Surely the Pacers remember Miami winning Game 3 in Indiana last year and Miami’s closeout Game 6 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2012. Although Miami clinched both the 2012 and 2013 titles at home, they did so after beating both the Thunder (in Game 2) and the Spurs (in Game 4) on the road. They also beat the Mavericks in Game 3 at Dallas during the 2011 Finals, before going on to lose the series.

If you have to face Miami with your season on the line, though, there’s no question about where you would prefer to do it. Here’s how the Heat have fared — at home and on the road — since James and Chris Bosh teamed up with Dwyane Wade in 2010.

heat-chart

An 80+ percentage win rate over the course of three-plus seasons and three long postseasons runs is truly daunting. There’s no shame in winning more than half of your road playoff games — none at all — but Miami’s sustained success at home is more than enough to strike fear in the hearts of opponents. Boston, Indiana, Oklahoma City and San Antonio have all lost do-or-die games in South Florida over the last two seasons, and that history is more than sufficient cause for the Pacers to chase hard after the No. 1 spot. This is a sensible rallying cry from Vogel, and George’s self-confidence isn’t totally misplaced, even if it does stand as cheap talk until someone, perhaps the Pacers, succeeds in unseating the Heat.

Hat tip: Eye On Basketball

12 comments
Mswenson
Mswenson

paul george will never win a ring

ak_tatiracanal
ak_tatiracanal

I'm not aware if any players on the Pacers have ever been in the finals,so this talk about home court might be moot.

They might be too smart for their own good. To me, a championship caliber team wouldn't care where the game was played.


The Heat would probably like home court, but if not, so what? You win the championship wherever and however you can.


Because if there's a game 7 at Indiana between the Heat and Pacers, Indiana would feel confident because they have home court and should win. 


The Heat would be thinking beyond that, they would be thinking about their legacy and
I imagine they would do everything humanly possible to beat the Pacers. Including borderline cheap shots and dirty plays. 


And if the Heat should win the game, the Pacers would spend the whole off season questioning certain calls, breaks that didn't go their way and whatever they thought home court would take care of.

ki.nazir72
ki.nazir72

What difference does talking about it make, they would still have to play  the games…and win them.

luvvy000
luvvy000

Who's to say Indiana will play the Heat, there's 13 other teams in the East. Pacers plz focus on the league and not just the HEAT. And if Miami faces them, Miami will beat them in SIX.... seven that. GO HEAT!

List
List

"While George isn’t exactly engaging in chest-thumping trash-talk here, his point is clearly stated."

Actually, it's the point of the writer that is clearly stated in the headline.

George doesn't even mention Miami. He simply states that the Pacers are focused on getting home court advantage and justifies why it's important.

This is a perfect example of journalistic bait-and-switch and why people (about whom stories are written) complain about statements being taken out of context. It's a basically harmless example, but again, it's written simply to provide readers with a point of contention to chew on.


And by even responding to this article, I'm accomplishing the writer's purpose!

MatthewWadeSullivan
MatthewWadeSullivan

Not gonna happen. 3 reason oden is working his way back. He looks good. I be scare Roy. Miami got a center now. Second wade has not play healthy all season. He will be ready for pacer serious mark my words. Third. Miami will make another trade before deadline. We may see Bynum added to their roster if that happens 2 centers playing 20 mins each HOLY SH. T.

Weather or not Bynum is added or not. Miami not even playing at their peak. Pacer are they want home court advantage. Good for them but not gonna get pass the Heat serious will be over in 5 games

Another ring for LBJ

Delusional
Delusional

A lot sh!T talking for a team that its 0-2 in the playoffs series

JerichoMorrisLubarsky
JerichoMorrisLubarsky

Haha heat aren't worried about no pacers man. Lance Stevenson to me is the best player on that team

Epic786
Epic786

It just seems like the Indiana Pacers are trying to beg a rivalry with Miami Heat.

rockersdash
rockersdash

Here's the thing with Wade playing unbelievably efficient now and relatively healthy  and Oden marginally healthy, Miami won't need 7 games to beat Indiana or any other team for that matter. 

What Indiana should be concerned with is that, it is 7-5 vs teams vs +.500, Miami on the other hand is 11-2 vs +.500. Indiana has thus far had a  very easy schedule and Miami has too but to a lesser extent. Miami has played 9 games without Wade this year in which they have gone 5-4. Miami is 4 games behind Indiana playing its full squad and giving it their all EVERY game. 


You tell me who has been more impressive thus far considering Miami is no where near peak form and they have yet to allow Wade to play as usual. 

fry305
fry305

@ak_tatiracanalcheap shots and dirty plays? Have you ever watched Miami play? Class organization from top to botttom. Only time I've seen something dirty from them was in retaliation.