Insider offers a breakdown of every playoff series using an expert combination of scouting from Amin Elhassan and advanced metrics from Bradford Doolittle to answer three crucial questions. Also included are predictions from the writers and the classic Log5 formula for determining matchup probabilities.
We told you this was inevitable, right? The champion Miami Heat and the East's No. 1 contender, the Indiana Pacers, are finally set for the long-anticipated rematch of last spring's seven-game Conference finals classic. The Heat have more or less cruised to this stage of the season, managing the minutes and effort of their stars through the 82-game slog, landing a good-enough 2-seed and rolling past Charlotte and Brooklyn to get their hunt for a three-peat rolling. Indiana spent most of the last calendar year training in anger for this moment, like Robert DeNiro's character from "Cape Fear." The Pacers' revenge mission was on track until March 4, when Indiana began a long stretch of inconsistency and mediocrity that has been one of the more confounding developments in recent NBA history.
Overall, Indiana has split its last 36 games, but you know what? The Pacers are still here, with the entirety of their yearlong quest still rolled out before them: They are facing the Heat again, they are the No. 1 seed, and they own home-court advantage.
Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers
Eastern Conference finals preview