The Indiana Pacers' rivalry with the Miami Heat has been a one-sided affair thus far. The Heat are looking to secure their third consecutive title. These Indiana Pacers are still trying to get to the NBA Finals.
On Sunday, head coach Frank Vogel offered up a pretty fair illustration to media, per NBA.com's Wheat Hotchkiss:
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said at Sunday’s practice that he compared his team’s history with Miami to a little brother/big brother relationship at that morning’s film session.
'The little brother spends his whole life getting beat up by the big brother, getting beaten in sporting events, one-on-one basketball and what not,' Vogel said. 'And all them years of getting beat up builds them up to the point where they ultimately take on the big brother. That’s what we’re hoping to do.'
Vogel added, "I have an older brother and he used to kick my butt in one-on-one all the time," followed by a smile and a hopeful conclusion: "No longer, though."
The comparison comes at an apt juncture. Pacers guard Lance Stephenson recently commented to reporters on his bickering with LeBron James, saying:
To me, I think it's a sign of weakness because he never used to say nothing to me. I always used to be the one who used to be the one that say, 'I'm going to get under you. I'm going to do something to get you mad' Now he's trying to do it to me. I feel like it's a weakness.
Sounds a lot like a family affair.
A dysfunctional family affair.
These teams really don't like each other. As the Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman put it—via HoustonChronicle.com (subscription required):
In this rivalry, the aversion is genuine, the Heat ending the Pacers' seasons two years in a row only heightening the drama. Wade compared it to the Heat having to finally push past the Detroit Pistons to win their 2006 championship and then the Boston Celtics to start what has been a run of three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, as well as the past two NBA titles.
So the brother comparison has its limits. There's some legitimate bad blood here.
Vogel's comparison will be put to the test in this series. If he has it his way, the little brother will finally win out after years of getting beat up on. But his Pacers will have to recover from a 2-1 deficit in order to do so. It won't be easy, especially if the Indiana defense remains so inconsistent.
Indiana held Miami to just 38 first-half points in Game 3 but ultimately gave up 99 by the end of the contest.
The Heat will host Indiana for Game 4 on Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Pacers will be looking to even the series and—eventually—even the score. They're tired of being the little brother in this particular relationship.