Even while Miami has made virtuous strides in the Eastern Conference, enduring their own internal struggles to get the best of the conference and sitting in the best position to come out of the East, Indiana doesn’t respect them.
“We didn’t do this the easy way,” Hibbert told the Indianapolis Star. “It took time. But Larry Bird and David Morway drafted well. We got (David) West. We got George Hill, Leandro (Barbosa) and Lou (Amundson) for almost nothing. We didn’t do this by signing a couple of superstars.”
Frank Vogel also got in on a little bit of the trash-talking, seeming more like he was setting up a predetermined excuse for getting Miami’s stars to the line more than they should have.
"They are the biggest flopping team in the NBA," Vogel said. "It will be very interesting to see how the referees officiate this series and how much flopping they reward.
"Every time you drive to the basket, they've got guys not making a play on the ball, but sliding in front of drivers, often times they're falling down before contact is even made. It'll be very interesting to see how this series is officiated."
It’s rare that you hear a coach hanging his opposition out to dry before the series has even started, some with fear that it will serve as some type of board material for motivation. Obviously, Coach Vogel is less than worried about how his comments will hit the Miami Heat.
He should be, however.
The Miami Heat are not a team to look past, and it seems like Roy Hibbert and Coach Vogel have forgotten how Miami triumphed in three of four of their regular season meetings this year.
Miami won the first meeting riding in on LeBron James’ back as he scored 33 PTS with 13 AST and 57.1 FG percentage. This game was played without Dwyane Wade, as he sat on the sidelines after injuring his foot against the Charlotte Bobcats on December 28. Chris Bosh also added 22 PTS to the pot to end the contest with a Heat victory, 118-83.
Miami won the next two meetings and dropped the fourth against Indiana with a double-digit scoring effort from all five of the Pacers’ starters.
Maybe that last win and this series win against the Orlando Magic have the Pacers a bit cocky, but maybe they should run back tape of the Magic series to realize how far they still have to go to adequately match up against the Miami Heat.
Look at how the Miami Heat took out the NY Knicks, who had pure scorer Carmelo Anthony, Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler and three-point stroke king Steve Novak. Despite Anthony’s ability to drop amazing stats during the series, with the exception of Game 1, Miami counteracted his production with team play, defense and LeBron James.
Miami did not just walk into the playoffs and were handed the first round. They battled for it, more impressively than Indiana looked in theirs. Failing to give the Heat that respect is exactly why they will falter in the second round.
Indiana is so busy looking at how much Miami flops, which is a league-wide issue, and how they were assembled, that they are not paying more attention to how the Heat pushed through obstacles to stand triumphant in the second round.
It could be said that Miami had the injuries to multiple New York players on their side. So did Indiana. The Pacers drew a Dwight-less Orlando Magic team touting Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis as their leading man.
Indiana’s words mean little when they are downplaying a team that they have struggled against. However, their lack of respect for their opponent will be apparent in how Miami will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.