MIAMI (AP) minutes before the Miami-Indiana series begins Sunday afternoon, NBA commissioner David Stern was pressing in court for serving Heat forward LeBron James the league MVP award for the third time.
If the scene goes like Dwyane Wade hopes, now more about motivation than the peak for James.
'' The goal is to become the best player at the end of the season,'' Wade said. '' But if he can take a bit of history along the way, I do not think he was mad about it at all.''
So the MVP trophy given is repeated Saturday and Sunday for the ceremony will be removed, and the chase to the others - to be presented to the NBA title - resume for the Heat.
Lead in the Eastern Conference champion opened the second-round series at home against the Pacers, who won the last meeting between the clubs in the regular season after losing the first three matchups.
Some time before the series was dominated by discussions about how the failure Heat Pacers insist their way to call the referee, but the verbal jousting never really took off. NBA realized, however, the Indiana coach Frank Vogel fined $ 15,000 on Saturday for comment'' about how the judge should lead the Pacers upcoming series' with Heat,'' the league said.
And while noting that the heat can be a strong favorite, certainly bears noting that 46 Miami win was the fourth best in the NBA during the regular season - 42 wins are the five best Indiana, suggests may not be such a big gap between the clubs as some may think.
'' I think good,'' Vogel said Saturday before his team head to Miami, and a few hours before fine was announced. '' You do not know how it goes after you get out there, but as we are ready we have for every game this year and I feel good about what we can do.''
He should, given the way the club is playing lately.
From 1 April, counting both regular season and playoff games, Indiana is 16-4 - the second best record in the NBA during that span, following only the 18-2 mark of San Antonio. Pacers scored nearly 101 points on average in their last 20 games, sixth best in the league entering play Saturday.
In short, the Pacers - who beat Miami 105-90 in their last meeting on March 26 - gets hot at the right time.
'' I think this is what we all live,'' Pacers forward Danny Granger said. '' Big stage, big time, playing a team that everyone is talking about. This is definitely the place you want. ... I do not know if it's about respect. It's about basketball. It's about finding the better team. We're a good team. They are a great team. It is a battle.''
Miami did not agree with that assessment.
'' That they much different team in the last six weeks,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. '' We feel that we do too. We watch some movies of the last two games (against Indiana), it is not really recognizable. Our energy level at that time, but also how we played offensively -. There are many different things from our point of view''
It is a different series for the Heat's first-round of the New York Knicks, for many reasons. Indiana started the front line of Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert stood 6-foot-9, 6-9 and 7-2, respectively.
In the last game the team ', Indiana outrebounded Miami 49-33, with three players making a lot of damage. Not surprisingly, the rebound is a point of emphasis on skills ahead of the Miami series.
'' It's a physical series,'' said Miami Chris Bosh, to see time at both power forward and center in the series. '' There are many violations were released, but we do not have to worry about foul trouble. Of course, we not only foul them. Free throws were a big part of the efficiency of their attacks. So we need to have a good balance between the two. We need to wisely use our offense but try not to litter in action shot.''
Surprisingly, one of the reasons Wade feels like Miami should be in a position to win this Sunday is as disappeared last Sunday.
Heat swept the Knicks in Game 4 of the first-round series, but Wade missed a wild shot at the buzzer and the New York extend the match by winning two points. Miami closed it at home on Wednesday night.
Clearly, Miami would rather win the match and swept the series. But Wade said the benefits to play a fifth game in the series is that Miami does not need to sit for a week and wait for the second round. Heat set off on Thursday, Friday and Saturday practice, and Wade figures that they are still keen for Game 1 against the Pacers.
'' The best thing for us is to keep playing and stay in our rhythm,'' Wade said. '' You want to kind of stay in the flow of things. And we are ready to get out there. This is a special day, a chance to share what LeBron and this team is working for all year round with our fans before the game and we'll go from there.''