On one hand, the Pacers do present some challenges for Miami but we’re also talking about a Pacers team that needed six games to beat the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks.
Unless something really unexpected happens, the Heat are winning this series.
The Indiana Pacers can win because…
They pushed the Heat last year and now they’re an even better team. As you might recall, these two teams squared off in the second round of the playoffs last season and the Pacers actually held a 2-1 series lead. People making their NBA picks know that the Pacers are physical, disciplined and have some serious inside muscle that can cause the Heat some problems.
Many people feel that Chris Bosh is soft and while the energy of Chris Andersen doesn’t go unnoticed, the truth is that both will likely get pushed around by Roy Hibbert and David West. If the Pacers can rely on those guys to lead the way, maybe they have a path to victory.
Also, keep in mind that while Danny Granger is out, Paul George has grown up to fill his role. But unlike Granger, he doesn’t take a high volume of shots to get his points and he’s awesome on the defensive end.
If George can slow down James just a little bit, the Pacers can dominate inside and if Dwyane Wade isn’t healthy, who knows. They just might win. Stranger things have happened.
The Miami Heat can win because…
They are a far superior team to the one the Pacers barely tested last season. First off, yes, the Pacers did hold a 2-1 series lead last year but the Heat ran them off the court in the final three games. Since then, they’ve added Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Chris Andersen. Beyond that, some might same that the team chemistry is even stronger and players like Norris Cole are much improved.
The Pacers have a fairly mediocre backcourt and that’s going to be a challenge. George Hill is solid but unspectacular, Lance Stephenson is hit or miss and George is an All-Star. But they only really use D.J. Augustin off the bench to spell them, which means their backcourt could get worn out defending Cole, James and Wade all series long.
The Heat play awesome defense, are not a team that gets pushed around anymore and is just so deep and talented. They have two or three superstars while the Pacers have maybe just one (in Hibbert). It’s hard to see any way that the Heat don’t make quick work of the Pacers.
Outlook & Pick
In some ways, I’d like to take a small shot with the value on the NBA odds for the Pacers. However, you look back and this team lost twice in Atlanta in the opening round and twice more in New York in Round 2. Are they even capable of winning once in Miami?
Wade’s knee concerns me a bit but keep in mind that the Heat have had ample time to rest since they ended Round 2 in just five games. The Heat are unstoppable right now – even without Wade. I don’t see a mediocre Pacers team really taking more than one game from them.
Pick: Heat in 5 at WillHill