Tonight’s Heat-Pacers game in Miami clearly means something to Indiana. When you are the team chasing you are always looking to prove to yourself you can beat the best and attempting to send that message to them. For Miami however, it really doesn’t mean anything. They aren’t lying when they say that. But they kind of are. Sorta.
You see, all the Miami players are saying exactly what I’d expect them to say: tonight’s game against the Pacers is just another game. 1 of 82. No big deal. Chris Bosh, when asked about when he circled this game on his calender said, “yesterday.” That’s a great answer, and probably perfect.
The 2-time champs know the regular season is a grind. They know they either can’t or won’t fully focus on games until April. April, May, and June is really all that matter to the Heat. Last year they had their run at history’s longest winning streak, and while I am sure they took pride in that, they also probably don’t care about trying to get that streak again. Too much energy and not much fun.
No, the Heat don’t look at this game against the Pacers the same way Indiana looks at it. Make no mistake though, Miami will not say it, but they are excited about tonight.
Chris Bosh probably wasn’t lying when he said he circled the game yesterday. But now that today is here, those guys will be up for tonight. Not NBA Playoffs-up, but up.
When you are the champ, you look for little things to excite you during the year. Games and match-ups that get your motor going. Miami was prepared for last week’s game in Indiana, and they’ll be ready for tonight.
They want to win. They just aren’t worried about losing. They won’t play desperate, but they’ll play hard. They want to, in their locker room with nobody else around, say to each other that they are still the man. Indiana can’t beat them. They want to have that talk.
As much as Indiana wants to plant that seed of doubt in Miami’s minds for late May, the Heat want to avoid thinking about it and worse, being asked questions about it.
For Miami, tonight is a game about pride. They have nothing to prove. At least not until the playoffs. Indiana is the team still trying to prove to Miami, to the public, to the media, to their fans, and to themselves that they are better now than they were last May.