MIAMI, FL (Sporting Alert) — After splitting their two games on the road, defending champions Miami Heat will look to take back the upper hand in the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.
The series is currently locked at 2-2.
The series so far has been a physical battle between the two teams and Game 5 should be no different.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel says his team is full of confidence heading into the contest, but admits it must be at its best.
“We’ve got to be at our best,” Vogel said on Wednesday. “Our intensity, our determination, our focus, we’ve got to keep getting better if we’re going to beat this team.”
Miami and Indiana are yet to take advantage of playing in front of their home supporters, and Pacers center Roy Hibbert revealed this time they want to take care of business on the road.
In other words, Hibbert says they have no intentions of returning home.
“We don’t want to go home,” Hibbert said. “Miami is one of the best teams, along with San Antonio, and we know we have an uphill battle and we trust each other and love each other and that’s just grown, that love for each other.
“This is probably the first team I’ve felt like that about because last year even there were some guys were not all about winning.”
The series got even more heated on Thursday when Hibbert ripped into Shane Battier for what he calls “dirty fouls” after saying the Heat player constantly targets his knees during battles.
Meanwhile, LeBron James says he has already put being fined $5000 by the NBA for flopping in Game 4 and is looking forward to taking the court on Thursday night.
Several pundits believed the Heat through away a chance of going up 3-1 in the series in Game 4, but Miami coach Erik Spoelstra insisted his team isn’t affected by that.
Returning home will be somewhat of a comfort for the defending champs, but Spoelstra says his players are well prepared to play had.
“We have a great locker room of Alpha competitors,” Spoelstra said. “And so they take this very seriously.
“We’re playing against a worthy opponent and if we don’t play well, they beat us. If they don’t play well and we impose our identity, we beat them.
“That’s what this is all about. So let’s lace `em up and let’s get ready for Game 5.”
Indiana’s David West and Lance Stephenson were also fined on Thursday by the NBA for flopping.