The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers don't start the Eastern Conference finals until Wednesday, but that hasn't stopped the teams from engaging one another early.
Heat star LeBron James took exception Sunday to Pacers coach Frank Vogel referring to Miami as "just the next team" standing between Indiana and a shot at an NBA title.
Vogel made the statement during his postgame news conference Saturday after the Pacers closed out the Knicks in Game 6 of the conference semifinals, setting up a rematch with the Heat. Miami defeated Indiana in the conference semis last season on its way to the NBA title.
"We're not just another team," James said. "I don't understand what he's saying. But we're not just another team. That's not true. He said we're just another team in their way. We're a great team. If we're just another team, you really don't prepare for just another team. You have to prepare for us."
This marks the second straight postseason the Heat and Pacers have engaged in a war of words before facing each other. Vogel was fined $15,000 last spring for saying the Heat were "the biggest flopping team in the NBA." Indiana took a 2-1 series lead before the Heat won the next three games while playing without injured center Chris Bosh.