All season long, we've wondered if the Indiana Pacers can unseat the Miami Heat as the top team in the East once the NBA Playoffs roll around. For three straight years, the Heat have represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals and won the last two championships. In the last two postseason runs for the Heat, they've had to get past a tough Pacers team that has given them fits. With the Pacers looking improved enough to possibly knock the Heat down until about a month ago, it's been the only real Heat challenger discussion.
However, the Brooklyn Nets went 4-0 against the Heat this season and just completed their sweep of Miami Tuesday night when Miles Plumlee blocked a winning dunk attempt by LeBron James. This kind of performance all season long against the Heat has to make even James think the Nets are a guaranteed challenger to their East crown, right? Apparently not.
TNT's Craig Sager asked LeBron if the Nets were the Heat's biggest challenger in the East, which brought about laughter and dismissal by the four-time MVP. With the way the question was phrased, James isn't wrong in how he answered, necessarily. The Pacers are much better than the Nets and they provide a bigger obstacle to overcome in their path to a three-peat.
However, that won't stop adding fuel to whatever fire is burning for the Nets on their side of this equation. Three of the four wins by the Nets were one-point victories. In two of the wins, Dwyane Wade didn't play for Miami. And a lot of people aren't a believer in regular season series being an indicator one way or another of what would happen in a seven-game series.
This will definitely make a second round or Eastern Conference finals match-up more interesting between the two if they end up meeting.
(H/T - Ben Golliver)