The Miami Heat can clinch their Eastern Conference Finals entrance with a victory tonight, Wednesday, as they get ready to face the Chicago Bulls. The Indiana Pacers have a 3-1 lead over the New York Knicks in their second round series. From the looks of it, both teams ahead in the series will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where it will be the Heat vs. Pacers as another classic matchup is set to be witnessed.
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The Heat and Pacers gave us a very enticing second round series last year. The Heat were in disarray. Erik Spoelstra seemed to have lost control of his team. Dwyane Wade was answering back and arguing with his coach and the Heat were down 1-2 to the physical, younger Pacers. Now, though the Reggie Miller days are long gone, the Pacers are giving the Knicks a headache. Their physical style of play is keeping them away from the paint, but not allowing them to get comfortable looks from the three-point line. After pestering the Knicks through four games so far, the Pacers look ready to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
So it will be a sort of David vs. Goliath battle as the Pacers, the young guys with a young coach versus the defending champions who also happen to have the best player on the face of the earth. The Pacers' physical style got into the Heat's head last year. That was of course, until LeBron James remembered he was the best in the NBA and annihilated the Pacers in three straight games after they trailed 1-2.
What to Expect?
The Heat will clinch today. Meanwhile, the Pacers might have a tougher time putting away the Knicks as Game 5 is in New York. The Heat will be rested as they will await for the Pacers at home. Once the Pacers and Heat meet up it should be a very scrappy ball game. The bad news for the Pacers is that the Bulls have already prepped the Heat for scrappy and physical ball. The Bulls caught the Heat off guard in Game 1, which they wound up winning 93-86. The rest of the series has been all Heat.
The one thing the Heat might not be ready for is a full series of intense basketball. The Bulls aren't the same Bulls from Game 1. They are worn out after Tom Thibodeau has been forced to use the same guys repeatedly. The Heat and their bench will have to come out and play organized basketball as the Pacers will not only try to screw up their game plan, but they will also be all over them for 48 minutes of basketball.
It's hard to bet against the Heat, especially as the Pacers are without their best player, Danny Granger. Maybe if Granger were available, then the Pacers would have a legit chance in this series. However, the Heat provide too much fire power being that they're not a one-dimensional team like the New York Knicks who need to hit threes in order to win. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Ray Allen can create their own baskets off the dribble and don't have to settle for threes. The team with the better bench will win this series as their starters will be in foul trouble throughout the series.
Miami Heat win Eastern Conference Finals in 7 games.