Now that both the East and West contestants of what is the 2013 NBA Playoffs are set, here’s my take on the winners/losers of each matchup starting with the East. Seeds are in parenthesis.
(1) Miami vs. (8) Milwaukee: LeBron (DNP), Wade (DNP), and Bosh (DNP); Miami still wins 4-0. The Heat have 3 of the Olympic starting 5; Bucks have Jennings, Ellis, and a bunch of no names. The Heat should have been granted a first-round bye. That’s how horrible this series will most likely turn out.
(2) New York vs. (7) Boston: The Celtics should not be underestimated because of their age. Doc Rivers knows all to well – as do his players- what playoff basketball is all about. Only the Spurs Popovich is better at getting the most out of his squad. As long as health is not an achilles heel, Boston has more than a puncher’s chance of winning this series. The Knicks have 2 of the league’s premier shooters in Melo and Smith, but need Chandler to balance everything out. Sometimes when the shots are not fallin, the Knicks get caught holding the ball to long and standing around. The lack of ball movement in halfcourt sets will be their undoing and exactly what the doctor ordered for the Celtics. The Knicks should win; I won’t be shocked if they don’t.
(3) Indiana vs. (6) Atlanta: Pacers are to inconsistent; one minute they look as though they could beat anybody, and then turn around and look as though couldn’t compete with the recently crowned state champ Mentor Cardinals. Hibbert’s production is critical to the Pacers advancing to the next round. 8 points and 5 rebound type numbers will not get it done. Horford and Smith can tip the scales in favor of the Hawks if Josh stops poutin’ and start playin’ up to his ability. Al will bring it every night; will Smith help him out? Indiana wins 4-3 by default.
(4) Brooklyn vs. (5) Chicago: Lopez, Johnson, and Williams make up a nice core for the Nets, but Carlesimo and inexperience may count against them in the end. The Bulls are battle tested like no other. Chicago needs to only put points on the board; everything else will take care of itself. Rose’s return (off the bench) would be a huge bonus. Bulls win this series 4-2 on grit alone.
You would think by now most teams’ should realize that committing careless turnovers against the Heat not only makes what is a strength for them stronger, but also derails any chance for a victory. Especially if that team is the Indiana Pacers. The one team whose roster is compatible or comparable to the Heat. I know games are not won by who’s on the roster, but it’s not as if Indiana doesn’t have the talent to make a game of this magnitude formidable, they just don’t seem to have the mentality or want, to go toe-to-toe. If your goal as an NBA player is to win a championship, how in the world do you get off to such a slow start against the defending world champs? This was a game Indiana should have had circled on the calender six months ago. Where was the Pacer team that came to play in last season’s Eastern Conference semi’s? The Heat had 27 points off Indiana turnovers in a game that was essentially over in the first quarter.
I don’t know if the Pacers thought because they’ve beaten the Heat twice already this year just “showing up” was going to be good enough, I do know that any chance for beating Miami in the playoffs this go round centers around Roy Hibbert and no one else. Yes, Paul George must have much more of a contribution than the 10 insignificant points he scored in this woeful contest- at least from Indiana’s standpoint- but no contribution is more important than that of Hibbert’s.
Everyone that is anyone in the NBA knows the Heat are susceptible on the inside; why a 7-footer like Hibbert doesn’t demand of himself or from his coach the opportunity to exploit what is a glaring weakness for Miami makes no sense at all. It shows how poor the overall coaching is in the NBA and how undedicated to his craft Hibbert is. If Orlando Magic’s center Nikola Vucevic can pull down 20 rebounds against the Heat’s porous interior, surely a former Hoya-who’s been in the league longer- should be able to do better than 4; 1 offensive and 3 defensive in 32 minutes played!! Far too often Hibbert plays small instead of tall, like the 7-footer he is. To drive home my point even more, first year player Orlando Johnson had just as many (4) in a little over 14 minutes played. What a disgrace- for Hibbert and the Pacers. Free-throw attempts have to increase as well; 2-2 just won’t do. Hibbert would average 20+ pts/g and open the floor up for shooters Granger, Hill, and George if he were to get aggressive around the basket. Until he gets it in his mind to own the paint, we may never get to see how the Pacers’ roster really stacks up against the Heat.