May 28, 2012

2012 NBA Playoff Predictions: Eastern Conference Finals

Thoughts: The 76ers and Pacers put up a good fight, but this match-up was inevitable as soon as Derrick Rose's knee exploded.

Coming into this series, I thought more people would write the Celtics off because they're so injury riddled, but it's been quite the opposite, and some folks are actually picking them to win. That's shocking to me, not because I don't think Boston can win, but because I just figured everyone would want to saddle the Heat with as much pressure as possible and predict sweeps. I don't know, it's just hard to believe with Pierce on one leg, Ray Allen with 2 bad ankles, and no Avery Bradley all the "analysts" wouldn't use this opportunity to jinx Miami. Weird.

Speaking of injuries, the Heat are a 100% healthy team either. Though he did do some practice drills yesterday, Chris Bosh is still out. The knee that cause Dwyane Wade's 5 point, 5 turnover Game 3 isn't magically cured because he finished Round 2 on a tear. And don't even get me started on Mike Miller, the guy looks like running in mud with a gorilla on his back when he's going up and down the court. Oh, and don't forget that LeBron did tweak his ankle back in Game 6. Not making excuses, just saying.

Boston's Key To Victory: Out-of-this-world team defense. If Boston let's Miami score 100+ points a game, they don't stand a chance. The only way they can win is if they can keep things in the mid-70's or 80's, and the only way they can do that is by playing out-of-this-world team defense.

Miami's Key To Victory: Help from the role players. Yeah, LeBron and Wade played incredibly in Games 4-6 of the Indiana series, but if Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, and Joel Anthony never stepped up and took pressure of them, we could be talking about a Pacers-Celtics series here. The Heat's supporting cast needs to show up for them to win. They just need to. 

Boston's X-Factor: Ray Allen. Most folks aren't expecting much from Allen, but if he's not able to stay in front of Dwyane Wade or hit 3's on the other end, Boston cannot win.

Miami's X-Factor: Guys 3-10. To expect to keep getting 60-70 points a game from LeBron and Wade is unrealistic, so if the other guys aren't doing their job, Miami is in trouble.

Prediction: Heat win in 6. I expect Miami to take Game 1, but Boston won't back down and will steal 2 games before Miami closes it out in Game 6 in Boston. That's my pick and I'm sticking to it.