The Pacers may have taken a night off to get themselves right vs. the Bucks (and wound up with a buzzer-beater win to pull back into first place in the East), but they're not pulling any punches Friday when they meet the Heat. Vogel said Wednesday the starters will play vs. the Heat.
"Look, we spent all year with one goal (but at) some point you've got to shift your focus when things aren't going your way," Vogel said. "You (can't) pay attention to what everybody else is doing. Fixing your team (is) the only thing that's on our minds right now. We'll do this tonight. The plan for the starters was two days off (Monday an
d Tuesday), shooting and conditioning today.
"They'll practice tomorrow and they'll all play in Miami. We may rest some bench guys against Miami. The thought process behind all five guys is, if you sit one or two guys per game then nobody ever finds a rhythm. Finding a rhythm is just as important as getting our guys rest, (that's) part of the solution. So they'll rest this game and they'll all play together and look to find the rhythm Friday night."
The Heat's loss to the Grizzlies Wednesday and the Pacers' win put Indiana back into the driver's seat for hom court throughout the East playoffs. A win Friday essentially ends it, giving Indiana tiebreaker advantage and a 1.5 game lead.
The question is who will play for the Heat. Dwyane Wade has missed the past seven games with a sore hamstring,and Greg Oden has been out with a bad back. Will the Heat get everyone to go and make this an important game? Or hold out players and concede the top spot while depriving the Pacers the chance to build momentum to get out of their slump?
Or worse yet, what if the Heat rest some of their starters and still win? The psychological games are at play, and that means the playoffs are back.