Indiana Pacers beat the Miami Heat in race for top playoff seed

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The Miami Heat officially conceded the top Eastern Conference playoff seed to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, ESPN reports.

The Heat's 114-93 defeat to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center - which was achieved without the services of reigning MVP LeBron James or fellow 'Big Three' member Chris Bosh - left their regular season record at 54-27, guaranteeing the Pacers a top-placed finish.

Frank Vogel's Pacers - whose own record currently stands at 55-26 following Sunday's eventful victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Bankers Life Fieldhouse - had been in freefall of late after losing nine of their last 14 games, but the news that they have now officially secured homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs will hand them immense confidence heading into the postseason.

Losing to the Heat in a game seven Eastern Conference finals decider at American Airlines Arena last year, the Pacers were evidently desperate to land that top seed this time around and they certainly weren't shy in voicing such an aim over the last few months.

Now the challenge for the Pacers - who close their regular season with a matchup against the lottery-bound Orlando Magic at Amway Center on Wednesday night - will be to re-discover the stifling defence that made them such a formidable outfit just a few shorts weeks ago.

The Heat, meanwhile, finish their own campaign with a home contest against the dreadful Philadelphia 76ers on the same night.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra will hope that losing out in the race for the top seed won't have inflicted any lasting psychological damage on his team as they chase a historic 'threepeat'.

Indiana Pacers
LeBron James
Miami Heat

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