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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Miami Versus Indiana Preview

Eastern Conference Second Round

#2 Miami (46-20) vs. #3 Indiana (42-24)

Season series: Miami, 3-1 

Indiana can win if…the Pacers limit their turnovers and win the rebounding battle, thus forcing the Heat to score in the half court as opposed to thriving in the transition game. If the Pacers control the tempo of the game then they can exploit their size/strength advantage at the center/power forward positions by posting up Roy Hibbert and David West.

Miami will win because…LeBron James has a history of dominating in the first two rounds of the playoffs and this series is unlikely to be an exception to that pattern; James leads the Heat in several significant statistical categories and his dominant regular season performance that almost certainly will earn him the 2012 MVP has put to rest the ludicrous notion that he is some kind of sidekick to Dwyane Wade. The Heat have game seven at home as a trump card if necessary.

Other things to consider: On paper the Pacers look like a team that could cause the Heat some trouble: the two things that bother the Heat the most are big frontcourt players who can score and dynamic point guards who can get into the paint. In a half court game, Roy Hibbert and David West will present matchup problems for the Heat up front, while Darren Collison, George Hill and Leandro Barbosa will pose challenges for Miami's point guards. Danny Granger and Paul George have the size, length and athletic ability to provide more defensive resistance against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade than Miami's two dynamic wing players generally face.

The Heat won the first three regular season meetings between these two teams but it is difficult to know just how much to read into anything that happened in this compacted, lockout-shortened season as teams dealt with injuries and juggled their lineups for various reasons.

The Heat have the three best players in this series--likely 2012 MVP LeBron James, likely All-NBA selection Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who has made the All-Star team for seven straight seasons--but the Pacers probably have the next seven best players. In the NBA playoffs, superior talent generally trumps superior depth because the time off between games enables coaches to shorten their rotations accordingly. It will be interesting to see if Indiana can turn this series into a grind out, slow down, physical battle that will place a premium on strength, half court execution and depth or if Miami will be able to force a fast tempo and showcase the athletic skills of their three star players.

I expect that the Pacers will win two games but I don't think that they have quite enough talent to knock off the Heat, unless James decides to quit the way that he did against Boston in 2010 and against Dallas in the 2011 NBA Finals; the Pacers will surely be quite happy any time that James stations himself in the deep corner as an innocent bystander while someone else handles the ball. TNT's Charles Barkley said that if Indiana has a chance to close out the series in six then the Pacers will win but that if the series goes the distance than the Heat will win; that is a very reasonable assessment but for the Pacers to pull off the upset in that scenario they would have to win all three games at home and steal a game in Miami as well, a very tall order on both counts.

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:13 PM

6 comments

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6 Comments:

At Thursday, May 10, 2012 7:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. In fact, I don't even think this series will make it that far (six games). I envision the Pacers winning one at home but losing 4 out of 5 in a gentleman's sweep. The talent gap between Wade/James/Bosh and the Pacers is just too large for me, especially when, as you mentioned, Lebron is always such a killer in the first two rounds.

Hopefully we're both wrong though, because I always enjoy the long hard-fought series. Don't think this will be one, though.

Happydaze

 
At Saturday, May 12, 2012 1:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marcel

Can we get to the finals already pacers should get swept maybe win a game. Boston swept or maybe when a Game. Lebron has a different look this year a different feel from previous years. He taking the kobe jordan mantle and gonna close out his First ring I believe. He makeing all his free throws. He got more consistent jumper, he makeing plays late in games consistently. Along side his scottie pippen or pau gasol aka d wade even though he might be better than both def gasol. It Look Like his Time is coming. West got three title contenders. Lake spurs thunder that will be tough but I think bron find a way this year. Indiana and Boston can't score enough dont Have fire power.

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2012 9:07:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Marcel:

I believe that you have made the same comment about James for the past several years. Perhaps you are bound to be right eventually--or perhaps James will just never get it and he will continue to fold in the clutch against elite competition.

The West has two contenders; the Lakers are a pretender.

The Heat clearly should be favored against Indiana and Boston but the Pacers have the right mix to give the Heat trouble if the Pacers stay focused and disciplined. I would have loved to see a healthy Chicago versus a healthy Miami; maybe that will happen next year.

 
At Monday, May 14, 2012 9:16:00 AM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

With Bosh going down vs. the Pacers it's safe to say injuries have officially reached a ridiculous level.

I'm having flashbacks to 2003, when injuries to Webber (Sacramento), Nowitzki (Dallas), and Billups (Detroit) completely changed the complexion of the playoffs.

I think Bosh will be back, but if he is severly limited or becomes reinjured the Heat may be in major trouble in this series.

 
At Monday, May 14, 2012 5:05:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Daniel Song 39:

Even before Bosh got hurt the Pacers were using the game plan that I outlined in my preview and showing that if they play the right way then they can compete with the Heat. The Pacers executed very poorly in the second half and blew a great opportunity; if they had won game one they would have had a great chance to steal the series but even now they have a decent chance: they trail by one game but Bosh is likely out for the rest of the series, so if the Pacers can win game two then I would call this a 50/50 series. Game two is hugely important, because if the Heat win then the series is over (the Pacers will not beat Miami four out of five) but if the Pacers win and Bosh is really out then the Pacers are in excellent shape and James may go into "quit" mode.

 
At Wednesday, May 16, 2012 8:38:00 AM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

Looks like your prediction was on the mark... Pacers won game 2, have a great chance to steal the series, Bosh is really out, and James went into "quit" mode.

With that said, it's interesting how everyone is blaming James for the two missed free throws when Wade missed an easy layup afterwards that would've given the Heat the lead.

 

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