LeBron James has repeatedly resisted calling the Indiana Pacers one of his chief rivals.
James has some standards before an opponent meets that classification, and facing that opponent in more than one playoff series is a start.
Talk alone won't suffice.
Listen to what James said earlier this season, after a shootaround in Indianapolis, about the teams' second-round series last spring: “Chris (Bosh) got hurt, they took a 2-1 lead and (were) really excited about what was going on and were talking a lot. They felt they were the better team, and we took control of the series. … But they’ve been talking a lot. I read a lot of clips that they’ve had before the season that said they were better than us, and they should have beat us, so we’ll be ready.”
That was prior to a regular-season game, one that James and the Heat still lost. Miami then won the teams' only meeting in Miami, to finish the season series at 1-2.
"We felt all year we were in the top two in the East," Pacers forward David West said. "Things have been building toward this."
Indiana clearly feels good about its chances, even with its leading scorer from last season and postseason, Danny Granger, sidelined the rest of the way after knee surgery.
What can we make of the rest of the matchups?
All quotes for this piece were collected through the course of the author's coverage of the Miami Heat for the Palm Beach Post.