The Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies reached their respective conference finals last season, but one team looks more poised to continue its success so far this season.
Indiana seeks to further its best start in franchise history and remain the NBA's only unbeaten team after Monday night's visit from the Grizzlies.
The Pacers finished one win shy of the NBA finals last season and not having homecourt advantage for Game 7 against Miami likely played a significant role. They're trying to remedy that this season and are focused on finishing atop the Eastern Conference more than their 7-0 start.
"I really don't get too caught up in the historical value of it, other than we're ahead of the race," coach Frank Vogel said. "We're trying to get the (No.) 1 seed to put ourselves in the position come playoff time with the best chance to come out of the East."
Indiana surpassed the 6-0 start from its 1970-71 ABA squad Saturday with a 96-91 win in Brooklyn. Paul George scored 24 points - his seventh straight game with more than 20 - and David West contributed 18 in the Pacers' fourth game in five days.
"We're just going out, playing the game," George said. "Everybody is dialed in. We're not worried about keeping the streak alive, we're just worried about going out there and playing our hardest and winning a ballgame."
Indiana will try to become the first team to start 8-0 since the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans in 2010-11 when it faces a Memphis team that's had an uneven beginning under new coach Dave Joerger.
The Grizzlies (3-3), though, produced their most lopsided win in their most recent game Saturday, a 108-90 victory against visiting Golden State. Zach Randolph had a team-leading 23 points and 11 rebounds after leaving Wednesday's 99-84 loss to New Orleans when his fiancee went into labor.
Mike Conley added 20 points and helped Memphis finish with a season-high 53.2 percent shooting by making 9 of 11 from the field.
"I don't think we're fixed," Joerger said. "I don't think it's as broken as people think it was last week. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that all is well in the world of Grizzlies basketball. I (feel) like we're going in the right direction."
The Grizzlies will try to take another step by avoiding their first 0-3 start on the road since six straight losses to begin the 2009-10 season. Before getting swept by San Antonio in the West finals, Memphis dropped both of last season's meetings with Indiana by a combined six points.
The Grizzlies had a five-game win streak in the series snapped with an 88-83 loss in Indianapolis on Dec. 31 and fell 82-81 at home Jan. 21 after George Hill made a free throw with 1.4 seconds left.
George, among the NBA scoring leaders with 25.1 points per game, averaged a team-best 16.5 in last season's two wins over Memphis along with 8.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists. He led the way with 21 points on New Year's Eve, and finished two assists shy of a triple-double in Memphis.
Randolph, an Indiana native, averaged a team-leading 17.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in those two meetings for Memphis despite shooting 37.5 percent.