Lebron James was rather straight-faced Tuesday afternoon when asked what he remembers of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals that saw the Miami Heat eliminate the Pacers 4-2 last spring.
“Chris (Bosh) got hurt, and they took a 2-1 lead,” said James. “They were really excited about what was going on, and they were talking a lot. They felt like they were the better team, and then we took control of the series.”
The turning point of the series took place in the second half of game four at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, when the Pacers held a 10-point lead over Miami which looked to have the defending Eastern Conference champions on the ropes. That is when James and fellow Heat guard Dwyane Wade took the team on their backs, scoring the next 38 points for Miami on the way to a 101-93 victory that stunned a sold-out Pacers crowd. James finished the night with 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists, in a game that many consider to be among the best in his nine-year career.
The Heat ultimately went on to defeat Oklahoma City for the NBA Championship, and haven’t showed signs of slowing down in the 2012-13 season. Miami brings their Eastern Conference best 23-9 record to Indianapolis on Tuesday night,where the Pacers (20-14) will compete against the defending champions for the first time since being eliminated by them last season. Indiana seems to be a extra-motivated entering the game.
“I don’t think we can really say we’re over it until we play them,” swingman Paul George told the Indianapolis Star’s Mike Wells. “It’s going to be a good time for us to get a little revenge. But we definitely can’t say we’re over it until we play that first game.”
James, who is having another MVP caliber year averaging 26.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game, doesn’t seem to quite understand the Pacers added motivation to Tuesday night’s contest.
“I just want to win,” said James, when asked if he ever had any extra incentive to defeat teams that had knocked him out in the playoffs before.
“For me the mentality for me is the same whoever we play. That is just who I am, it is just the love of the game. I don’t put too much pressure on no team, but I am a different type of guy. I don’t put my onus on my season on one game, but they have been talking a lot. I read a lot of clips before the season that they were better than us and should have beat us, so we will be ready.”
With that mindset though Miami Head guard Dwyane Wade expects the Pacers, who have won ten of their last thirteen games, to bring their A-game on Tuesday night.
“When you have that confidence and can say we were only this far away from the team, and when you get the opportunity to play them again, you want to measure to see where you are at,” said Wade.
“Especially when you get to play that team on the floor for the first time, so it will be rocking here just like it was with a playoff type of atmosphere. Every time we play this team it is a competitive game, and a physical game. We look forward to starting our road trip off in a tough environment, and it will be a great challenge for us.”
James did have nothing but positives to say about Pacers forward Paul George, who is averaging 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 2012-13, and has seemed to have taken a step forward to eventually becoming the main piece of the Pacers puzzle to success.
“With growth comes confidence,” said James.
“I think the good thing, well it is bad for (the Pacers), is that they haven’t had Danny Granger. It has allowed him to grow and fill in that role, that number one or whatever the case be role which has given him opportunities to showcase what he can do. With his speed, athleticism, length, and opportunity to shoot the ball, he has done some great things for this team.”
The contest between Miami and Indiana tips off at 7:00 pm at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.