Pacers prepare to open Eastern Conference Finals

Indiana Pacers forward David West reacts to the team's 93-80 victory over the Washington Wizards in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Washington, Thursday, May 15, 2014. The Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Indiana Pacers forward David West reacts to the team's 93-80 victory over the Washington Wizards in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Washington, Thursday, May 15, 2014. The Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Pacers and the Heat meet for a second straight year in the Eastern Conference finals. Last season, Miami beat Indiana in seven games, before winning a second straight title.

“It was hard to deal with because we felt like we had a legitimate chance of getting by those guys,” said Pacers forward David West of last season’s end.

This time, the team believes the outcome will be different.

“We’re better. We’re smarter. We’ve got more talented players. We’re ready this time,” said Pacers guard Lance Stephenson.

“We’ve got to have a little edge coming into this series,” added Pacers forward Paul George. “This team has taken us out twice now, so there’s got to be an edge to take this team out.”

Home court advantage hasn’t meant much in the NBA playoffs this season, particularly in Game 1. The Pacers dropped both openers to the Wizards and the Hawks.

“Not part of the plan. Not by design,” joked Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. “Our intent is to go out and get Game 1, and our guys are upset that we didn’t win Game 1 in the previous two series.”

“Playing the champs, we’ve battled hard all year long for the opportunity to go against the Heat in Game 7,” added George. “By any means, we can’t allow ourselves to come out flat tomorrow.”

The Pacers and the Heat split during the regular season.

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