Eastern Conference Finals finally on the way and it’s the best possible EC Finals we could hope for.
Miami Heat – Indiana Pacers
If there is one team in the East, that can beat Miami in best out of 7 games series, it’s the Pacers without a doubt.
Pacers got everything they need for that. George is best LeBron defender in the league without a doubt. Hibbert is a huge miss match and there is a very good reason why Pacers won under the boards in three games in regular season and not just won, but trashed the Heat, taking no less than 44 rebounds more than the Heat.
In fact, the only game that Heat won, was the only one where they managed to trail the Pacers in rebounds in single digits (took only 9 rebounds less).
Two keys in this series in my opinion.
Hibbert (or Vogel vs. Spoelstra) question. Hibbert is a huge miss match on both sides of the floor. He is a rebounding machine, Heat can’t stop him in the paint and he has huge paint presence simply altering shots by being there.
On the other hand, Heat won last year’s series, by going small and playing Bron as Center, forcing Hibbert to chase smaller and faster player all over the perimeter. That way, Hibbert got to foul trouble, he got tired and paint was free for other Heat players.
If Pacers will manage to use Hibbert as an advantage, while hiding the problems that his presence creates, Heat will be in big problems, especially since West always has good games against the Heat.
That brings me to the second key and that is three point plays.
Hibbert and West are force to be recon with. But, when you look outside the paint, someone to stretch the floor, hit jumpers and so on, you can’t find really reliable shooters for the Pacers.
George, Hill, Stephenson, Johnson – all shooters that can catch a hand, but players that Miami can afford to gamble with, until they prove otherwise.
Their ability to shoot open looks is crucial to Pacers ability to get to the needed score that together with their defense, can be enough to win the game.
It also goes the other way around.
With paint being closed by Hibbert and West and with George doing great job on LeBron, Heat shooters and they got plenty of them (Allen, Chalmers, Battier, Lewis and others) will need to stretch the floor and not allow Pacers to focus on defending the paint.
Spurs punished Memphis heavily for closing the paint and leaving Spurs to open shots in Game 1 and Heat will need to do the same.
Bottom line is that this can be very open series and I think that Pacers can win a game in Miami and maybe even Game 1.
8 points is just too much to lay, against best defensive team in the East and one, that has the entire roster as if created especially to play the Heat.
89 – 87 sounds about right here.
Pacers +8, 1.94 odds – 6 units play – Pinnacle
Best of luck everybody!!!