The Indiana Pacers are in a familiar position. It’s the same one they were in last year in their playoff matchup against the Miami Heat. Lose Game 1 to the Heat in South Florida. Bounce back to win Game 2 to take home-court advantage in the series. “It feels like déjà vu a little bit,” Pacers point guard George Hill said of the Eastern Conference finals. “We tell everybody don’t focus on that. Put that in the past.” In the past is where the Pacers want to leave what happened last season against the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. These aren’t the same Pacers. They’re a more mature and confident team. They proved that when they didn’t overact to winning Game 2 on Friday. “We’re a totally different ballclub,” power forward David West said. “I think going through that experience helped us last round (against the New York Knicks). We still haven’t accomplished anything. We know we have to have protect our home court. We’ve been able to do that for the most part in the playoffs. Again, we’re looking to be ourselves.” The Pacers went into Miami last year hoping to sneak away with a victory in one of the first two games. They got the win and celebrated, causing West to yell at his teammates to get off the court and head to the locker room. That wasn’t the case this time. The Pacers shook hands, and that was about it. Then they headed into the tunnel toward their locker room. Nothing more. “We’ve been through this before as a group,” West said. “There’s just no need to celebrate. We won a game that we prepared for, we played hard and competed. We felt like we put in enough work to win. And we did.” While some NBA fans might have wanted to see Miami’s Big Three go against the Knicks, the two best teams in the Eastern Conference are going toe-to-toe in a series that hasn’t lacked excitement. The biggest lead by either team in Game 1 was seven points. The biggest lead in the second half of Game 2 was nine. The Heat and Pacers expected to be here, with the key being Indiana believing it deserves to be on the same floor with the defending NBA champions.
A different Indiana team is facing the same situation as last season
Indianapolis Star | May 26