Miami faced some adversity. After winning game one, Chris Bosh was sidelined and Indiana won the next two games. Trailing 2-1 in the series, the Heat relied on their superstars to beat a the up and coming Pacers. From the get-go, you knew this matchup would be physical. Indiana flew under the radar all season long. I believed in them during that Chicago series last postseason.
I thought they would challenge Miami in competitive fashion, but didn’t expect that to translate into many victories. I picked the Heat to win in 5, but looking back I think they would have swept Indiana with a healthy Bosh. LeBron James is a 3-time MVP for a reason. I get the “King James” nickname because he really does it all. The true definition of closing a game comes with 4 minutes remaining. It often goes unnoticed, but that’s when the losing team tries to turn it on for a final run. Or, the winning team wants to finish them with the dagger. James is a closer, it just so happens that Miami has the luxury of having Wade as well.
Usually, James carries the squad throughout the game and Wade will pick and choose his spots. Wade, more times than not, steps up as the ultimate closer down the stretch. What I would do is have those studs run a pick and roll in the clutch. In doing so, two of the best players in the world are part of the play with the game on the line, instead of watching one of them stand in the corner away from the action.
Anyways, the Pacers fought a valiant effort but couldn’t take advantage at home in game 6. Udonis Haslem elevated his scoring and was the x-factor in Miami’s game 5 win. He was suspended, along with another big man in Dexter Pittman. Indiana’s front line had a successful first half against the thin interior presence, but the stars came out and took care of business. Miami is heating up with three straight victories to eliminate the Pacers, and will get some time to rest while Boston and Philadelphia settle game 7 of their series.
It’s easy to go with Boston because of their experience. It’s also easy to look over Philadelphia, a young team without a go-to guy. This has been ugly and hard to watch, similar to the 76ers-Bulls series. Tough defensive teams with inconsistent offense, the survivor gets a date in South Beach. To be honest, it doesn’t matter who pulls game 7 because they’re days are numbered. As much as I’d love to make a bold prediction, I can only call it like I see it. The Celtics get a couple days rest, and they are the better team that will advance to the next round. Would I be surprised if Philadelphia won? Yes, but it’s not like they have a legitimate shot at the title.
76ers need Andre Iguodala to play at a high level, all the time. He’s been performing like the all star that he is, on both ends of the court. As for Boston, they need vintage Kevin Garnett and his 20-point contributions. For Iguodala and Garnett, their tasks are easier said than done, especially with physical east-coast basketball.
How the West is Won
OKC and San Antonio have lived up to expectations thus far. A couple things I don’t like about the Spurs: Tim Duncan has to score for them to win. I think he will struggle against Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. The second thing, you can’t quite pinpoint what separates them and why they win. Yes, they’re fundamental, balanced, and deep, but I have yet to find their “it.” The Thunder have a recipe for success, but I’m not a fan of their style in a 7-game series. All season and postseason long, I’ve been saying that they’re too 1 on 1. That’s all they do, it’s who they are, and now the playoffs are far enough for them to be exposed.
You can look at Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, or Manu Ginobli and James Harden. We’ll soon find out if Kevin Durant will take advantage like the scoring champion should. With that said, I expect some lower scores and it should be an instant-classic, 7-game series.
All-NBA First Team
Chris Paul (Clippers), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Kevin Durant (Thunder), LeBron James (Heat), Dwight Howard (Magic)
All-NBA Second Team
Tony Parker (Spurs), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Kevin Love (Timberwolves), Blake Griffin (Clippers), Andrew Bynum (Lakers)
All-NBA Third Team
Rajon Rondo (Celtics), Dwyane Wade (Heat), Carmelo Anthony (Knicks), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Tyson Chandler (Knicks)
* All-NBA teams have a total of 9 Western Conference players and 6 from the Eastern Conference. All 5 players on the second team represent the West, while 4 players on the third team reside in the East.