Pacers vs. Heat Is The 9ers vs. Seahawks Chess Match Revisited

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Updated: March 2, 2014
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Strategy is paramount in any facet of life that requires someone to get an advantage either over a competitor or an adversary, sometimes both competitor and adversary aren’t mutually exclusive parties, but you understand what I’m trying to say.

One arena where strategy is paramount is sports. Teams position themselves in a way that not only can they maximize their own full potential, but also so they can match their biggest rivals and ultimately get the best of them when necessary.

This chess match has been going on for the last two seasons in the NFL between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, and currently it is going on in the NBA between the Indiana pacers and the Miami Heat.


The Pacers are in the same sort of arms race with the Heat that the 9ers are constantly in with the Seahawks, and it’s extremely fun to watch. 

While in the NFL version the two head coaches Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh would be considered the architects behind this and not Seahawks GM John Schneider and 9ers GM Trent Baalke, that isn’t the case in the NBA.

I am sure Pacers head coach Frank Vogel and Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra have a big say in who plays for them, there is no debating the real geniuses behind these power houses are NBA legends Larry Bird and Pat Riley. 

All season long both teams have been measuring each other to see who’s doing what and how the other can stop it.

The Pacers took the Heat to game 7 in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals and the Pacers think they’ve figured out the blueprint to beat the Heat; a traditional big man in the post. 

Roy Hibbert was a terror down low last year against Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony on the Heat. Bird and Vogel know this, and the Heat don’t like it. So the Heat got rid of one of their most clutch playoff performers in Mike Miller, in order to make room for Greg Oden.

No one knows what Oden can really provide for the Heat given his injury riddled track record so far in the NBA, but coach Spoe and Pat Riley are willing to take the gamble. 

If Oden can give them 10-15 quality minutes in the post in the playoffs against Hibbert and David West, then it was worth any dollar amount to Riley.


But in today’s NBA where dominant centers are all but extinct, you can never have enough quality big men…Enter Andrew Bynum.

The former two-time championship winning former LA Laker was not productive on the court during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after he was traded to the Bulls then released, everyone knew he had two options. Either he retires from a sport he doesn’t really like anyway, or goes and plays for a contender. 

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The Heat and Pacers were hoping for the latter and it worked out that way with the Pacers securing his services. So now both teams had two injury prone centers they acquired to keep away from the other team as much as it was to help themselves win. It didn’t end there.

The Pacers were still wary of the Heats big three and the Heats penchant for running and gunning and nailing three pointers in the clutch. So the Pacers made a shocking move by dumping their former All-Star Danny Granger for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen from the Philadelphia Sixers.

Now they’ve gotten younger on the bench with a player that averages 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists a game. 

Will the loss of a veteran like Granger and the lack of chemistry with a new player like Turner hurt the pacers in the long run? Maybe. Was it worth the risk? To Larry Bird the answer was Hell yes.

The Pacers get into funks where no one can bury a shot, so adding another scorer especially off the bench was vital. The message was clear, sorry Granger we love you but this isn’t about loyalty, it’s about winning. Mike Miller and Danny Granger were collateral damage, and in war, that happens.

We’ve watched this play out for two seasons in the NFL and if the NFC Championship game told us anything, it’s that the Eastern Conference final’s battle will be epic. Again this is akin to what was happening between the 9ers and Seahawks. 

The 9ers knew what they were doing when they got Anquan Boldin last season from the Baltimore Ravens for basically a donut and an old pocket watch.


To beat that insane Seahawks secondary the 9ers needed players who aren’t scared to get physical and will give it just as good as they get it.

Boldin is a monster and monsters are necessary when facing Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor. 

And for the Seahawks, Pete Carroll didn’t get Percy Harvin because he was scared of anyone in the AFC.

On the contrary, he got Harvin to out run guys like Aldon Smith, Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis from disrupting plays in the backfield and to run past those athletic freaks of nature. 

Everything Carroll and Harbaugh do is to beat each other, period. The Heat and Pacers are the NBA version of this and the conference finals are going to be nothing short of amazing. 

Who ultimately comes out the victor only time will tell, but regardless of who wins in the playoffs, it may be the regular season chess match between Riley and Bird that will decide it all. 

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