Yes, Lebron and Bosh are going off right now combining for 32 of the Heat’s 49 points. Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert have 3 fouls apiece and sat chunks of time on the bench in the first half. But somehow, the Pacers are only down by 5. If Paul George and David West keep rolling and Wade struggles, Indiana can steal this one but a lot has to go right. At the point guard position George Hill needs to make a presence shown and CJ Watson must facilitate when he comes off the bench . The X factor for the Pacers in the second half will be Lance Stephenson, his defense, attitude and physical play will help power the Pacers moving forward in this game. Indiana needs to get to the free throw line and get some key Miami players in foul trouble. Most importantly, of they can keep Bosh and Wade at bay and contain LeBron somewhat they can steal this one.
Folks, this is my favorite (other than the Warriors) playoff series. It features the most physical and best defensive team in the game against one of the league hottest teams since the ASB including one of the best teams at home. I have covered and watched both teams during the season so let me begin with Chicago. Chicago amazes me in so many ways. It was there adversity they endured when they lost Derrick Rose, which led for a special someone named Joakim Noah to rise to a level we never knew existed. Noah has become one of my favorite players for a couple reasons; his ability to shoot midrange shots with ease now, his love for the game translates to that of a diehard warrior that will go down with his ship, his ability to play physical defense and rebound and the most intriguing new thing about him is the ability to dish the ball. He has a handful of triple doubles this year which is unheard of for any center in the NBA this day in age. DJ Augustin needs to play big in this series but not over do it. He needs to stay quick and efficient with a pass first mentality. Chicago works best when they pass the ball around and not play “me” ball. A strong low presence with Boozer and Gibson are key and teams will try to target them on offense because Gibson can score in bunches for a midrange jumper and a glass monster as well. Other players such as Kirk Hinrich, Tony Snell, and of course Jimmy Butler. Butler has been here before and his tenacious defense is much needed, he just needs to be efficient on offense. Chicago as a whole is not a dumb run and gun team, they have set plays and coach Tom Thibodeau has an amazingly effective approach to the game. On first year Jason Kidd’s Brooklyn Nets side this team hopped on a roller coaster to begin the year but as soon as the ASB concluded they went on fire and had the best record in the NBA. They have endured with injuries to Garnett, Lopez, Wiliiams, Kirilenko to name the most notable. With Garnett healthy, Pierce turning up at the right time and Deron Williams playing about 85% the Nets look good. Although they can score the Nets are 9th in the NBA giving up just under 100 points per game which is ninth in the league. What struggles and could be an x factor to who wins is the rebound game. Brooklyn is second to last and definitely misses Brook Lopez on the glass. Chicago is 10th in the league and relies heavily on its defense. I can see this series go 4-2 either way but Noah’s determination and grit will rally Bulls toward a series win.
Interesting and hunger driven series we have here. Both these teams have been irrelevant in the NBA for some time and now the time has come for them to show the league what they possess. Unfortunately they have to play each other. Raptors have taken all 3 of the series regular season games and ride into the playoffs with a franchise best season. Great tandem guard play from Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez pose threats to any defense. Both these guys can score, shoot threes, and dish the ball out quite efficiently. Demar Derozan at the 2 guard can score 25 on any given night and plays defense quite well. Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas square the middle off and Amir is a rebounder and volatile defender toward opposing teams Add Tyler Hansborough off the bench Terrence Ross and this team has quite the little squad working for them. On the other side of the table we have a Wizards team who is also ending its own playoff drought. This team is interesting, they score in bunches and can get it from all types of players, but can they outscore their defense, that is the statement being made. When you have an arsenal of weapons such as Wall, Beal, Gortat, Nene and Ariza, you are going to get successful offensive results. Ariza has always been a good defender and John Wall can steal the ball pretty good. Bradley Beal has not blossomed into a fine defender although it is early in his career. Gortat and Nêne are a sure presence in the post and can rebound and play strong defense with most teams. I give Toronto a slight edge on winning the series because of their depth and overall strength but Wizards’ fast breaks and three point shooting need to be consistent in order for them to win no doubt. Final Prediction for the Series is 4-2 Raptors based on strength, team chemistry and focus. Wizards are to young with Wall and Beal shouldering a load. Ariza also going to need to play primetime.
To me it was uneasy and rather undecided to give a legitimate reason what the prediction of the Pacers and Hawks series would be. This next Heat and Bobcats series is a little bit more predictable but still has some worries for the defending champs. The bobcats are 8-2 in their last 10 games and Al Jefferson is playing lights out basketball. Kemba Walker is still an exciting ball player that can dish and drive and loves the big moments so this will be his chance to prove himself yet again. Al Jeffersons post game is top 3 in the NBA and the Heat have subpar to decent guys who can bang in the paint with him, he could really be a nuisance. He has the ability to drop 30 points and grab 15 boards a game; he is just a pure beast in the post. His supporting cast will have to coincide with him and help him out. This includes role player such as Josh McRoberts, Douglas Roberts, Bismayck Biyombo, and off guards such as Gerald Henderson and Gary Neal. This Charlotte team has played awesome defense throughout the whole year and play well at home, the thing it comes down to is inexperience and nerves from your core players. Granted Wade has been hurt most of the year and rested on numerous occasions, the Heat are still beatable and if they contain Lebron James they could make a series out of it. When it is all said and done I think the Heat however win 4-1, with Bobcats taking a game at home for good measure.
INDIANA (1) VS. ATLANTA(8)
season series 2-2
Interesting first round matchup we have here with recently poor playing but somewhat rejuvenated Indiana Pacers going head to head against final eighth seed Atlanta Hawks. The recent slide from the Indiana Pacers was seen by many as a quick shot to put them out of contention for the conference finals rematch with the Heat. They did go 9-13 in their last 22 games which is pretty poor for a team that was running away with the 1 seed for quite some time. They showed up against an elite OKC Thunder team at home and shut them down toward the stretch. What did not give them any reassurance was that loss by 12 to Miami last week. This team has unbelievable team chemistry and talent, they just have players like Paul George who can be a leader but he has been in purgatory all year trying to become elite player but in my opinion has not proven so just yet. Let’s focus our attention to a Hawks team that might be able to give a difficult matchup to the Pacers. The Hawks just recently beat out the mediocre Knicks for a chance to play in the playoffs. Many people would and TV ratings would probably want to see the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony against Indiana. Personally though, the Knicks would have been a terrible team to matchup with the Pacers even though Indiana is not playing its greatest hoops as of now. The Hawks give the Pacers trouble on the inside with players like Paul Millsap who is a 20 ten kinda night guy on most nights. Paul has a good midrange and even three point game and 15 feet in he is lethal as well. He can dish to shooters like DeMarre Carroll and marksman Kyle Korver. A couple bench players like Elton Brand, who is a seasoned playoff veteran, and Mike Scott add some more size and scoring from the bench.. Point guard Jeff Teague will need to play near perfect in this series and limit his turnover ratio. His ability to score is key but he is not a Derrick Rose 30 a night possible player. Teague will need to pass the ball and look for his outside shooters like Carroll and Korver. If Indiana’s offense continues to deteriorate i can see this going 6 maybe 7.