MIAMI, FL (Sporting Alert) — LeBron James and the Miami Heat are buzzing with confidence ahead of taking on the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference final at AmericanAirlines Arena here on Wednesday night.
Online Streaming: TNT Overtime
TV Coverage: TNT
Time and Date: 8:30 PM ET, May 22, 2013
Place: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
Live Box Score
James and Heat battled to a 4-1 series win over the Chicago Bulls, despite losing the opener at home, while the Pacers took care of the Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks 4-2 in their semifinals.
Now the two best teams in the East come face-to-face to start the battle for a place in the championship.
“This is the way it should be,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “These are the two best teams in the East.
“This will be a very competitive series.
“If we are the same team we were last year, that won’t be good enough.”
Reigning NBA regular season MVP James also has his eyes well set on progressing to another final, but knows it will be a tight series.
“It’s an opportunity for me to continue my dream and that’s to compete for a championship,” said James.
“I’m happy that I’m in the position I’m in, with great teammates and a great organization. I’ve just got to do my part.”
Another Miami star, Dwyane Wade, is also delighted to be in another conference title winning position.
“I know I’m blessed to be going to the Eastern Conference finals for my fifth time,” said Wade, who captured his second NBA crown last season.
“But I would like a lot more in my career. It’s a good thing.
“We’ve been very successful in my tenure here. But I want more.”
Miami, just as they did against the Chicago Bulls, must brace for a very challenging series, with many NBA pundits predicting that the seven game series will go the full extent.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel is also expecting a tough series for both teams, gifted enough to beat one another on any given day without sidestepping from the game itself.
“I think this will be about substance,” Vogel said. “This series has plenty to offer without hard fouls and trash-talking.
“It’s going to be about basketball.”
commenting on seeing off the Knicks in the last series, he added: “The way our guys responded in the Knicks series, it gives me a lot of confidence that they’re going to step up and rise to the challenge.”
The Indiana Pacers edged the Heat 2-1 during their head-to-head matchup in the regular season, but did drop the last game, going down 105-91, despite holding James to just 13 points.
Normal service resumes on Wednesday night and forward Paul George, who is averaging 19 points per game, said it will be something interesting.
“I think it will be a good series,” George said. “Obviously, we remember what happened last year and it will be on our mind when we face this team.
“We’re not just happy to get to this stage, we want to get past this one, too.”
Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Lance Stephenson and D.J. Augustin are expected to vital pieces for the Pacers, while Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen are the others to watch for Miami.
In fact, center Hibbert is already looking forward to Wednesday night’s game on the road.
“I’m ready to compete, I know everybody is so we’re excited to get a chance to go out there,” he said.