TEAM RECORDS: Miami Heat (46-20) vs Indiana Pacers (42-24)
SEASON SERIES: Miami Heat (2-1)
LAST SERIES: Miami Heat (2) defeated New York Knicks (7) in 5 games / Indiana Pacers (3) defeated Orlando Magic (6) in 5 games
KEY MATCHUP: Chris Bosh vs Roy Hibbert
This isn’t the New York Knicks we’re talking about.
The Indiana Pacers will be Miami’s first true threat on the road to the NBA Finals.
They don’t have the stars that New York (Carmelo, Amare, Chandler) has, but the Pacers are an overall better and deeper basketball team and will give the Miami Heat a run for their money, that’s for sure. Again, the New York Knicks they are not.
The Heat go from facing a team with a clear-cut #1 scorer in Carmelo Anthony to a roster of players who are all capable of having big nights and carrying this team. The game plan is clearly going to have to be tweaked in this one.
“I don’t think they’ve given us too many problems, personally. We’ve played some great ball against them. I think we’ve given more problems than they’ve given us.” – Lebron James on the Pacers
He is technically right. The Heat basically had their way with the Indiana Pacers during the regular season. Their one loss came during a bad 5-6 stretch at the end of March. Miami should certainly be confident heading in to game 1 this afternoon.
Lebron proved why he was chosen as the leagues MVP during the last 4 games of the Knicks series averaging 32 points a game and carrying the Heat on offense in the process. While the Pacers are fairly tall on the wing (George 6’8, Granger 6’9), it remains to be seen if either of the 2 will be able to handle the onslaught that James will surely bring in this series.
The Pacers are coming off a 5 game series win over the Howard-less Orlando Magic and will also now be facing a team that is the complete polar-opposite of what they just encountered in the opening round. The level of intensity, skill, athleticism and star power on the Miami Heat is night and day from what was in Orlando.
Indiana is probably the best chance the Eastern Conference has in stopping Miami from reaching the promise land. It’s just a shame that everything the Pacers excel at, the Heat do just a little bit better.
THE HEAT WILL WIN THIS SERIES IF Chris Bosh can find his shot against Roy Hibbert down low. The Indiana Pacers have a legit all-star center which the Miami Heat don’t have. Its going to be difficult for Chris Bosh to deal with a 7’2, 280 pound behemoth in the paint and get into a nice scoring rhythm. The offensive load can’t be on the shoulders of just James and Wade. The longer this series goes and the more scoring pressure that’s put on those 2 superstars, the worse off the Heat will be in future rounds (if they eliminate Indiana of course). Chris Bosh needs to establish himself in this series as more than just the third wheel to Lebron and Dwayne’s power couple.
THE PACERS WILL WIN THIS SERIES IF they can utilize their superior depth to their advantage. Not only can a number of their starters (i.e Granger, George, Hill) guard more than one position on the court, but the Pacers also have 3-4 bench players (Collison, Hansbrough, Barbosa) who are capable of having big nights in their own right. The Pacers will need all the firepower they can muster up in this series. If they can get consistency from their bench and starters and keep up with the Heat on both sides of the court, they may in fact shock the NBA world and beat the Heat.
FUN FACT: Lebron James joins Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird and Moses Malone as the only players in NBA history win at least 3 Most Valuable Player awards.
Game 1: Sun., May 13 at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Game 2: Tues., May 15 at Miami, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Thurs., May 17 at Indiana, TBA, ESPN
Game 4: Sun., May 20 at Indiana, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Game 5 (if necessary): Tue., May 22 at Miami, TBA, TNT
Game 6 (if necessary): Thurs., May 24 at Indiana, TBA
Game 7 (if necessary): Sat., May 26 at Miami, TBA
FINAL STAFF PREDICTIONS
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports