After Bum-rushing the Milwaukee Bucks in round one, and handling a depleted Bulls team the heat are on one mission. That mission is simple win another NBA Championship, but the road just got a little tougher In the way of LeBron James’ second ring is Frank Vogel’s Indiana Pacers. Keep in mind the Miami Heat really haven’t played a meaningful game since early March. Miami compiled a historic 27 game win streak this season that took the sports world by storm. The Miami Heat led by league MVP LeBron James know what to expect Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.
Dwayne Wade’s health is a key issue, he has been bothered by a bum right knee. This postseason “Flash” numbers have dropped, averaging 13 points per game while shooting 45% from the field. Miami is going to need its role players (Norris Cole, Shane Battier, Ray Allen) to perform at a high level. Chris Bosh is going to need that smooth lefty jumper to be consistent throughout this series. Indiana’s Roy Hibbert has been playing possibly the best ball of his career in these playoffs. His ability to clog the paint with his long arms and wide frame, will make it hard on Miami’s attackers to get good looks. Hibbert is swatting away 2.5 shots per game in these NBA Playoffs, but look for Miami to move the ball and get good looks.
X-Factor (Miami Heat)
Dwayne Wade is vital to this Miami Heat title run, averaging 13 points per game vs. Indiana will not get it done . He is going to have to be in the 18-19 point range in order for Miami to win this series. Lance Stephenson will more than likely draw the assignment of defending Wade. Stephenson is a physical defender and is a hassle to guard with the ball in his hands. So D-Wade has is work cut out for him in this series
X-Factor (Indiana Pacers)
Roy Hibbert will be the key to success for this Pacers team, his presence in the paint is major. He definitely has to get back on defense and rim protect because the Heat will look to run. If Hibbert can make this a halfcourt game Indiana has a legitimate shot at winning this series.
Keys to Victory: Miami Heat
– Run, Run, Run, with LeBron James playing Power Forward it allows Miami to get some easy transition buckets.
–BOX OUT the Indiana Pacers led the league in rebounding this year. Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem will all have to clean the glass.
– Dwayne Wade’s health, obviously he is going to have to play exceptionally well in order for Miami to have a shot at their 3rd NBA Finals Appearance in 3 seasons.
– Chris Bosh/Roy Hibbert Matchup, Bosh must make Roy extend his defense to create driving lanes for LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, & Mario Chalmers. that will also lead to open 3 pointers.
Keys to Victory: Indiana Pacers
-Get back on defense because Miami is going to look to run with Roy Hibbert in the game. Force Miami to beat you shooting.
-Keep Composure, the scuffling and bickering only made Indiana play worse in last years series. Stick to the gameplan and execute
-Must limit turnovers, if you give it away to the Heat its almost a for sure bucket in transition with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade on the wings.
-Stay out of foul trouble especially Hibbert, the heat will look to drive from time to time. Must keep physicality under control.
Prediction: Miami Heat in 7