The Miami Heat are currently locked and loaded, ready for their final push towards their third championship in a row. After easily sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round, the Heat are currently crossing their swords with the Brooklyn Nets. Although the Nets could post some trouble to the Heat and their three-peating course, the Heat are expected to roll past Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and their company. The team that could seriously post some threat to the Heat’s three-peating ambitions, though, is the Indiana Pacers.
Assuming that Frank Vogel’s group will get the ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals, we will witness a rematch of last year’s Conference Finals. This time, though, the margin between the Heat and the Pacers is much smaller. Whilst Indiana is not playing as well as it did during the first months of the season, each series is different. Indiana couldn’t use its big advantage in its front line against the three-point lovers, Atlanta Hawks.
However, if the Pacers play against the Heat, who lack size and bulk inside, Roy Hibbert and David West will have a great chance to dominate inside for yet another time. Indiana’s big men could make the difference between advancing or go fishing this year but in order to do so, Roy Hibbert will have to collect his pieces, find some confidence and play as good as he did last year. The gigantic center has not been playing well at all as of recently and he will be a key factor in this potential matchup against the defending champs. After all, it’s true that Paul George stole the show last year but if it wasn’t for Hibbert’s and West’s domination in the paint, the Pacers wouldn’t have done that well.
If the Heat make it to the NBA Finals they can’t be as certain that they will win the Larry O’Brien trophy as they were last year after they won the East. Whoever the opponent might be, the Heat will be seriously threatened. Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs are all teams capable of topping Miami in a seven game series. Even the Portland Trail Blazers could threaten the Heat, if they somehow make it to the NBA Finals.
Of course, the Heat stand good chances of beating any of these four teams but their job will be anything but easy. Especially if the opponent is OKC or the Clips, the Heat will have a very difficult task. Kevin Durant finally won the MVP title for the season and together with an explosive Russell Westbrook they can cause major trouble to the Heat.
The Clippers, on the other hand are arguably the deepest and most loaded with offensive weapons team in the playoffs at the moment. Even if the Heat’s starting five have the slight advantage against the Clips’ ones, which is debatable, LA’s secondary unit clearly wins the battle against Erik Spoelstra’s bench. With Doc Rivers at the wheel, I wouldn’t like to be in Spoelstra’s shoes in a potential Finals matchup against the Clippers.