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Grab Your Popcorn: Is Heat Versus Pacers Rivalry Back In Action?

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The “beef” hasn’t ended, it’s just getting started.

When Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren exchanged words in a January 8 match between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, resulting in ejection and a hefty fine for both players, a rivalry between the squads had seemingly returned.

While Warren, who according to Butler, is “not in my league,” hasn’t had the credentials of the five-time All-Star, the tense feud signified past meetings between the two franchises. For starters, Miami and Indiana hold a respectable rivalry in the past decade, squaring off in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2012, and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014. The closest best of seven series was in 2013, as the Heat pulled away from a Game 7 scare, defeating Paul George’s Pacers, 99-76.

Today, both teams are fighting for a No. 4 spot in the conference standings. With a 2-0 season series lead, Miami has the ultimate edge over the Pacers. Yet, with both teams now healed up, fans could be in store for a great contest. There’s no questioning each team’s hunger to outmatch one another, creating a playoff environment regardless of who’s in attendance.

And for what it seems, the Heat will be matching up against Indiana in a first round playoff meeting. However, before any postseason play begins, they’ll meet twice in the NBA’s eight “seeding” games.

First, an August 8 contest, which would be Miami’s sixth game at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex. Once planned to take place on March 20, Butler has openly marked the date on his calendar, calling out Warren following their dispute. As for the game, both teams should seemingly have shaken off any chemistry issues. As a wise man once said: “May the best man win.”

Lastly, the Heat will close its “seeding games” on August 14 against the Pacers. Although it’s too early to tell, Miami’s seeding could possibly skyrocket to second-place, or tumble down to sixth-place. This one game could factor in the Heat having to play the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round or instead battle a banged-up Brooklyn Nets squad. At the same time, the meeting could serve as a resting factor for both teams’ starters before entering the playoffs.

For now, grab your popcorn, as we’re in for a rollercoaster ride.

Michael Yero covers all of South Florida’s major pro teams, along with high school sports for 305 Sports. He also covers sports for Immaculata-La Salle High School’s student newspaper, the Royal Courier.

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