When asked, on a Wednesday episode, by Showtime’s Jim Rome if he can see the Heat beating Indiana in a seven-game series without that added benefit, George said the following:
We don’t. I mean, we know how well we play at home. We were one of the best teams in the postseason last year defending our home court. We just know how big home-court advantage is when it comes down to postseason. That’s one of our main goals this year is to lock up the first seed so we can have the opportunity to play at home throughout the whole playoffs.
The Pacers have compiled a 20-1 record at home during the 2013-14 season (tops in the NBA) en route to a 31-7 overall record, which leads the Eastern Conference. Miami is currently four games back with a 27-11 mark.
During the 2013 postseason, Indy only lost at home once—in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat. In that game, George finished with 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting to accompany three fouls and five turnovers.
Indiana pushed the series to seven games but got blown out during Game 7 in Miami, 99-76. George had one of his worst games of the playoffs, fouling out in 34 minutes while posting just seven points.
Would the outcome have been different if the Pacers had home-court advantage in Game 7? It’s impossible to know for sure, but George and Co. are trying to ensure that question can’t be asked in 2014.
With Miami sputtering (5-5 in their past 10 games, losing three in a row), Indiana has separated itself as the No. 1 seed.
There are still approximately three months remaining in the season, though, so the Pacers can’t take their foot off the gas pedal.
Regardless of which team holds the No. 1 seed at season’s end, a possible (and likely) Eastern Conference Finals rematch is sure to be thrilling.