If there was ever a more fitting example of David vs Goliath in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, look no further than the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.
The defending NBA champions from South Beach are a modern-day Goliath if there ever was one, thanks to their marquee big name All-Star roster of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
Thanks to a franchise-record 66 wins and 27-game win streak—the second longest in NBA history—the Heat have seemingly cruised thru the post-season in winning 11 of 15 games.
While such a modern-day example of hardwood dominance is rare in today’s age, the Heat are both loved and uttered despised for who they are—a cadre of glorified mercenaries focused on adding another trophy to their spoils.
Led by the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player in James, many experts prematurely crowned the Heat as champions with some even planning Miami’s victory parade right down Biscyane Boulevard.
Too bad the gritty and plucky Pacers didn’t get that memo.
While not as star-laden as their more overly hyped and marketed adversaries, Indiana is a team small on hype but big on heart, and thanks to their own emerging superstar in Paul George, the indomitable Roy Hibbert and the blue-collar, lunch-pail attitude of power forward David West, the small-market Pacers have not only managed to make the big and bad Heat look proverbially tiny, vulnerable and mortal.
While Game Seven against the Pacers is something that not many within the 305 zip code was expecting, their beloved Heat is not only on the ropes, but stand on the precipice of forever known as the eternal example of choke artists.
Perhaps Pacers head coach Frank Vogel was on to something when he referred to Miami as just another team.
No one gave the underdog Pacers a shot of competing with the Miami Hype Machine, let alone push them to a seventh game, but to the more educated and knowledgeable hoops aficionado, they sensed that this would be a long and physical seven game war, thanks to Miami’s glaring weaknesses on the glass and in the low post.
During their Game Six 91-77 loss, the defending champs were outrebounded by 20, and have been dominated on the glass by Indiana by 105 in nine games and held to season lows in both points (77) and shooting percentage(36.1)
Many expected the Heat would simply lace up their proverbial over-priced Nikes—Li Ning’s in Wade’s case—and simply show up and intimidate the meek and younger Pacers.
Guess no one ever heard of the team concept in South Beach?
Not only has Indiana proven to be Miami’s equal through the first six games, but also a true rival in managing to make Wade look like a shell of his former self, Bosh look like the proverbial third wheel he was—and still is—and LeBron look like a Cleveland Cavalier again.
So is this Heat, the Heat or the newly named Miami Cavaliers of LeBron and the Four Tops?
Throwing stats aside, Miami being “pushed” to seven games is an insult, when considering that the Pacers beat the Heat twice in the regular season—and counting the playoffs—are 5-4 against the fabled super team from South Beach, and theoretically speaking, a James lay-up away from Game One of the NBA Finals against San Antonio.
That being said, Game 7 is where anything can happen, and while the odds favor the more finesse-minded Heat, as home teams are 89-23, or close to 80 percent of the time, all the pressure is on the Heat to win against such a heavy underdog on it’s home court.
If they do the unthinkable and lose, not only will they be remembered as the biggest chokers in history, but the so-called Miami Heat Invitational will be cancelled permanently thank to the blue-collar and gold swagger of the younger, bigger and more physical Pacers.
Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at [email protected] follow me on Twitter @RC_TheInscriber and follow The Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber