Little at stake in Heat-Pacers regular-season finale


The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are unlikely to give away any secrets — if any are left — when they go head-to-head in a meaningless playoff preview in each team’s regular-season finale Friday afternoon near Orlando.

The Heat (44-28) and Pacers (44-28) will take the court tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, with the winner earning the No. 4 playoff seed and the loser getting No. 5.

In previous years, landing fourth would mean home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. But with all playoff games slated for one of three neutral courts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando this year, no such advantage exists.

The teams have met three times at three different sites this season. Miami has won all three.

The Heat prevailed 113-112 at home in December on a late Goran Dragic hoop, limited T.J. Warren to three points in a 122-108 road victory in January, and got seven double-figure scorers in a 114-92 blitz in the NBA bubble Monday.

Both teams had something to play for in their last meeting, with each seeking to distance itself from sixth-place Philadelphia and avoid a first-round playoff pairing with Boston.

Each has accomplished that goal, Indiana by going 5-2 since the restart, Miami despite having lost four of its seven.

Despite the lack of success against Miami this season, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon made a strong statement to the media Thursday.

“I think we have an opportunity to beat this team,” he stated. “We are going to rise to the occasion and take care of business.”

It’s likely both teams will rest most or all starters Friday, although Heat coach Erik Spoelstra joked that the game does have meaning.

“It’s good to know that we play them,” he expressed to reporters after the matchup became official Wednesday. “Just need to figure out what uniform we’re wearing.”

Friday’s winner will be designated as the home team in the series, which for the first time in four years will match rivals that met in the regular-season finale.

The last two teams to go back-to-back in that manner were Cleveland and Detroit in 2016.

Eight different Heat players have averaged 13.3 points or more against the Pacers this season, led by Jimmy Butler at 17.7. Bam Adebayo has shot 64.5 percent en route to 15.3 points per game, along with 11.0 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Victor Oladipo has played just once against the Heat this season, scoring 14 points in Monday’s loss.

Warren, who has averaged just 10.3 points against the Heat this season, has been one of the leading scorers in the bubble, going for 31.0 a night.

Miami and Indiana have met four times previously in the playoffs, with the Heat winning three of the last four, including 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals in their most recent matchup in 2014.

–Field Level Media

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