The top seed in the Eastern Conference is the Miami Heat's if they want it. And based on what transpired Friday night at AmericanAirlines, you could see how a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Indiana Pacers at home on June 1 might be the preference. But after the 98-86 victory over Pacers, the greater question is to what lengths the Heat will push. With the victory, the Heat improved to 54-25, with the Pacers dropping to 54-26. While the season series finished tied 2-2, Indiana retains the tiebreaker due to their superior Eastern Conference record. With the Pacers closing against an Oklahoma City Thunder team practically locked into second in the West and then the lowly Orlando Magic, the Heat might have to win their remaining three games to complete their climb to the top. That includes a Saturday road game against the Atlanta Hawks, the fourth game in five days for the Heat, a Monday road game against the seedings-conscious Washington Wizards and then next Wednesday's regular-season finale against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. With a victory Saturday, the Hawks can eliminate the New York Knicks from playoff contention. "I would love to see us play with this identity, to our identity, [Saturday] night," was as far as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra would go in discussing the seedings race. "If we do that, the results take care of themselves." Forward LeBron James, who led the Heat with 36 points, took a similar perspective. "It's all about the process," he said. "It doesn't matter about seeding." That was the collective opinion. "We've been talking about this one-seed too much," center Chris Bosh said. "We'll take care of tomorrow and see what happens." As it was, the Heat continued Friday in the absences of Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden, with each missing their ninth consecutive game, Wade with a hamstring issue, Oden with a bad back. The Heat have now won the last six regular-season meetings with the Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena. "It was about as consistent to our identity as we've had for a while, for 48 minutes," Spoelstra said.
Heat, LeBron pound Pacers 98-86, regain East control
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Apr 12