Despite taking a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat will not be repeating as NBA champions at the conclusion of this year’s postseason. The Heat are the overwhelming favorites to win the title, however they still have two quality teams that have the ability to score an upset and move on. One of these teams will be able to accomplish the seemingly impossible and defeat them en route to an NBA title.
Lebron James and the Miami Heat are an amazing basketball team, and this prediction takes nothing away from them. This is simply a result of the other teams being a little hungrier and playing together to accomplish that task. On paper the Heat win, yet below are the ways in which the defending champions can be defeated.
How the Indiana Pacers can win:
In game three of their series the other night, Lebron James sent shock waves through the NBA world with his impressive post play. This took the Pacers by complete surprise, as he easily dominated in the paint throughout the game. The Heat won that game and took a 2-1 lead in the series as a result. However, coach Frank Vogel didn’t seem too concerned about it when talking to his team during practice Monday. He told his team that they have to do a better job mixing up their double teams of James and throwing him off his rhythm.
Big man Roy Hibbert credited his teammate Paul George for slowing James down for much of the first three games of the series. He also acknowledged that the team needs to do a better job helping him protect the middle of the court and keep James from driving. If that problem can be fixed, the Pacers have shown that they will not back down from a challenge and have the ability to win in any venue against the defending champions.
The Miami Heat will not get past the Pacers to repeat as champions if the Pacers can defend Lebron James and Dwayne Wade on the perimeter while using their interior advantage to its fullest potential. Paul George has shown himself to be a superb defensive specialist thus far in his career, and if he gets some help from teammates so that Miami’s two superstars are controlled and out of rhythm.
Assuming the Pacers can take care of their outside defense and keep Lebron from driving down the lane, their inside presence lead by Roy Hibbert should be able to take over the series. David West has also shown an ability to control things inside the paint in this series, giving the Pacers two men to combat the Heat’s Bosh and Birdman. The bottom line is that the Pacer’s front is tougher than Bosh, and Birdman is playing at a level he can’t sustain for the entirety of the series, he hasn’t missed in four straight games.
With an inside presence established the Pacers would stand a chance at doing the unthinkable. Miami at times this year has struggled on the road, they also gave the Pacers the confidence they needed to pull off an upset by losing to them in game two. Pair those factors together and its a dangerous mix for a Miami Heat team looking to repeat as champions.
Why the San Antonio Spurs can beat the heat:
Should the Miami Heat get past the Indiana Pacers and face the Spurs in the NBA Finals, they would not repeat as champions. Tim Duncan has turned back the clock at age 37 this post season, closing in on the all time record for double doubles in the playoffs. He is also hoping to win a fifth NBA title for himself. The Spurs are a team that knows how to win in the playoffs, having made the postseason each of the past sixteen years.
Experience is the most important factor that the Spurs have working for them. All of the aforementioned playoff experience, paired with the best coach in basketball, and a successful road record makes the Spurs a formidable opponent for the Heat should they advance.
Tony Parker is just the guard that can defeat the pressure defense of Miami. He has too much experience to get overwhelmed or surprised by any wrinkles that the Heat throw at him. Plain and simple, he won’t turn the ball over with the spotlight on his team.
Inside Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter have the ability to dominate the Heat and control the game from within. Duncan is the catalyst on this team, if the Heat were to allow him to get going, there is almost no way he will let them repeat as champions. Duncan is playing like a man on a mission, and looks to be on his way to an astonishing fifth championship.
Although the Miami Heat have looked to be far and away the most dominant team in the NBA for the past two seasons, they do have some holes that quality opponents like the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs will be able to capitalize on. If either one of these teams proves able to accomplish the things spelled out above, they will be the ones crowned champions, not the Miami Heat.
By: Charlie Gille
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
The Guardian Express