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8 Teams That Can Give Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers Playoff Problems

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8 Teams That Can Give Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers Playoff Problems
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday's meeting between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers might have been an Eastern Conference Finals preview, but contrary to popular belief, that isn't set in stone just yet.

Although the standings and the stat sheets paint these two clubs as the baddest beasts from the East, all of those numbers will be cast aside come playoff time.

From the championship-or-bust Brooklyn crew to the Windy City's blue-collar ballers and even that unexpected (unintentional?) contender lurking north of the border, potential postseason pitfalls could crush those championship dreams running rampant through the Circle City and down in South Beach.

Perhaps that's placing too much of a premium on the Pacers' problems. Maybe it's digging too deep into Miami's malaise.

That's yet to be determined. For everything we think we know from the first five months of the season, March certainties don't always carry over to June. Just ask the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets, whose 15-game winning streak into late March couldn't prevent a premature playoff exit in early May.

Anything can—and does—happen in the NBA's second season.

Assuming both the Pacers and Heat can traverse an Eastern Conference playoff path that looks more treacherous now than it has all season, then what? Does either team look capable of surviving a seven-game series with the Western Conference's finest?

The battle-tested San Antonio Spurs look ready for another age-defying, lengthy playoff run. The Oklahoma City Thunder are ready to ride MVP front-runner Kevin Durant as far as he can carry them.

If additions are being made to the rafters inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse or AmericanAirlines Arena next season, they will have been earned.

 

Statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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