The Indiana Pacers are coming off yet another exciting match-up versus the Miami Heat this week. Just a few games ago, they fell in a close one that went down to the final seconds. The Pacers entered the fourth quarter leading in double-digits, but just couldn't pull through.
In last nights' game, it was easily just as exciting, maybe just even more. Just intense throughout the second half. Indiana was getting destroyed during the first quarter, and ended it trailing 41-19. Yikes. It looked over from the start. But Indiana made a quick run to close out the half in a close one. Entering the third, Indiana started lighting it up and showed signs that they could beat the Heat on mostly any given night.
But it just wasn't this one. They ended the third with the lead, but in the fourth quarter, LeBron James stepped his game up a few notches to help the Heat knock off Indy in a 110-103 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse. None the less, the 24-29 Pacers have been great under Frank Vogel. They are still doing great at 7-2 under him.
"I'm proud of our guys," Vogel said. "This is what I'm talking about when I talk about smashmouth basketball, blood and guts, never quitting. All heart, all hustle."
And thanks to Vogel, that is happening. Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 18 points and seven rebounds. Danny Granger, who was coming off a 30-point game previously, couldn't pull through last night and wasn't much of a factor, having 14 points, but however nine rebounds. Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George both played great, having 16 points and 14 respectively.
But this game shows something for the future. So far, all three of the games these two teams have played each other in this season, they've all been swell. There's no question both teams will have a really bright future.
The Miami Heat will be led by LeBron James but don't count out Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. These three will be the key components of their team. They will certainly win at least one ring together, but I definitely see more than that. The next decade for this team is bright.
The Pacers also have a bright future. They know that Danny Granger, Darren Collison, and Roy Hibbert are the keys, but players that could also play a role in the future are George and Hansbrough as well. I could definitely see the future starting line-up being Collison, George, Granger, Hansbrough, an Hibbert. This team, I can see, may have a Finals appearance at least.
But I think we'll be seeing a lot of great match-ups from the Heat and the Pacers. There's no doubt this could be like the Pacers-Knicks rivalry or Pacers-Bulls rivalry in the 1990's when Reggie Miller took the show. But I see this being more of the Pacers-Bulls one. The Heat look like they can be the Bulls of the 90's. James is their Jordan, Wade seems like that Pippen, and Bosh could be that Horace Grant. This would put up exciting match-ups in the playoffs.
This looks to be a great rivalry in the future. So far, we are already seeing a taste of that.
The series may be over for these two teams, but don't be surprised if these two meet in the playoffs this season. Indiana has a shot now after the way they have playing, along with the fact that they currently hold the eighth seed.
And yes, there will also be more hunger from these two in the 2011-12 season, too.
Look forward to a potential rivalry folks.
The next decade of the NBA is going to be great.