No team in the NBA this season put the public pressure on themselves like the Indiana Pacers. The open chase for homecourt advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs could be viewed as a success, because Frank Vogel's team indeed earned the top seed, or it could be seen as the catalyst to a sloppy end to the regular season and inconsistent first two rounds of the playoffs.
Yet, the Pacers are where they want to be, in the Eastern Conference Finals facing the Miami Heat.
Indiana and Miami split the regular season series 2-2 with the home team winning each game. That might confirm to the Pacers that their goal of winning homecourt advantage means something, and it will be put to the test beginning on Sunday in the series opener at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. But here's how the regular season panned out and how else it could allude to the upcoming series.
Dec. 10: Pacers 90, Heat 84
Behind Roy Hibbert's 24 points, Indiana won its 10th game in a row at home to start the 2013-14 season. The Pacers shot 50 percent from the floor and held LeBron James to 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting from the field. Indiana did a good job challenging Miami behind the three-point line, holding them to 4-of-21 shooting, and won in the paint by outrebounding the Heat by 10. Paul George and David West aided Hibbert's cause by adding 17 apiece, while West led his team with nine boards.
Dec. 18: Heat 97, Pacers 94
The Heat overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half and found a three-point lead thanks to Ray Allen's clutch shooting down the stretch. George had a chance to tie the game with a three at the buzzer, but missed despite the referees deciding against blowing their whistles on a controversial no-call.
The game, which again saw Indiana hold Miami to less than 24 percent three-point shooting, will also be known for the overblown exchange between Mario Chalmers and James that forced the King to clear the air on Twitter. James led the Heat with 24 points, seven assists and nine rebounds, and Dwyane Wade scored 32. George scored 25 points for Indiana, while Hibbert scored just six.
March 26: Pacers 84, Heat 83
For more proof that Indiana wants to win ugly, look to the game where Vogel's squad shot 37 percent to Miami's 46 and allowed James to drop 38 points. Hibbert scored 21 points, despite taking an elbow to the jaw from James, and George led the Pacers with 23 points.
The Pacers scored 26 points off 19 Miami turnovers in this one, and most importantly, limited Chris Bosh to 3-for-11 shooting. It was a perfect way to illustrate that Hibbert's success in four games against Miami this year -- he averaged 14 points per game -- aligned with Bosh's struggles. Bosh averaged 11.3 points per game and has shot just 43 percent against Indiana. In regular season, he went 3-for-14 from three-point range against the Pacers and that will be something to watch, considering Bosh is taking 3.9 threes in the postseason and hitting 49 percent.
April 11: Heat 98, Pacers 86
Miami took the final regular season meeting of the year at home thanks to 36 points from James, and it did so without Wade. George led Indiana with 22 points, right on his season average against the Heat, but the Pacers saw the lethargic side of Hibbert as their season ended in concerning fashion. Hibbert scored five points, and the Pacers were outrebounded, 40-31. The theme has been similar during their postseason run.