Indiana’s victory over Houston on Wednesday set up what had been the last two unknown series in the Eastern bracket. Boston’s No.3 will play Philadelphia’s No.6 in a meeting between longtime rivals, and the Pacers are now locked in an opening streak in the East against the Miami Heat – with the potential to these teams playing nine times in 10 games.
Miami beat Indiana on Monday. The teams meet again on Friday in the final of the two clubs’ classification match, then go head-to-head in Game 1 to start a best-of-seven series early next week.
This means that for only the second time since 2011, the teams that finish the regular season against each other will open the playoffs against each other. The last time this happened was in 2016, when Cleveland faced Detroit.
“It’s good to know we’re up against them,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who learned of Indiana’s victory over Houston about 90 minutes before Miami’s tee time against Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. “I just need to know what uniform we’re wearing. ”
That part is true: Miami needs one more win to secure the No. 4 seed, and the right to be declared the “home” team for Games 1 and 2 in the series. If the Heat lose Wednesday then Friday’s final, Indiana will be No. 4 in the East and Miami No. 5.
The Heat lead the season series with the Pacers, 3-0.
“We have to match the energy of Miami,” said Edmond Sumner of Indiana. “It’s a team that will play hard for 48 minutes. ”
This will be the first Heat-Pacers series since they met in three straight series – 2012, 2013 and 2014, with Miami winning all of these. The only other playoff game between the clubs was in 2004, with Indiana winning that one.
The Celtics have beaten the 76ers in each of their last four postseason series. The last time Philadelphia ousted Boston was in 1982.
The other Eastern clashes were known before: No.1 Milwaukee plays No.8 Orlando and No.2 Toronto plays No.7 Brooklyn.