Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eastern Conference Finals Prediction: Heat vs. Pacers (Trifone)

The Miami Heat are playing as well as anybody right now, and were able to close out the Bulls in four consecutive games, after Chicago's Game 1 upset.  Dwyane Wade has been awful for the most part, although he came on and had a few key plays in the close-out game of the Semi-Final round.  Chris Bosh has picked up the slack , and Norris Cole, among others, has also been a big contributor.

The Pacers fell off everyone's radar, closing the regular season in very mediocre fashion.  They came to play in the playoffs, though, and were clearly the better team against the Knicks.  Paul George and Roy Hibbert have been key factors in Indiana's success, but I think David West may be the toughest matchup in the upcoming series against Miami.

Indiana can, and likely will, win the rebounding matchup, but I don't think they're going to have enough to win the series.
LeBron James had a tough series against Chicago, a team that usually gives him some trouble.  Still, he managed to put up solid numbers, and put his team in a position to win each game.  I expect LeBron to be great in the Conference Finals, and Miami to advance to the NBA Finals in a series that is not as interesting as the Spurs/Grizzlies (see my prediction for that series here).  The Pacers are a tough team, but they're not on the same level as the Heat.  I like Miami in five.

Series Prediction: Heat in 5 Games

[Note: This post is from John Trifone.  See his other basketball posts here and/or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyT0122.]

Western Conference Finals Prediction: Spurs vs. Grizzlies (Trifone)

I have absolutely no idea who is going to come out of the West.  I typically have a pretty strong opinion on who I feel is going to come out of a given matchup, but these two teams are as evenly matched as they come.  Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been dominant in the playoffs, exposing a flawed Oklahoma City Thunder team.  Clearly, Russell Westbrook has meant more to that team than people may have thought, because when asked to carry the load on his own, Kevin Durant fell short of where we had become accustomed to seeing him succeed.

As for the Spurs, they are a tough team to predict.  Last year, they were playing close to perfect basketball, and rolling through the playoffs, only to go cold and lose four straight games to OKC.  This year, they steam-rolled the Lakers in four, and then looked like the inferior team in their first two games at home against the Warriors.  Personally, I thought that they weren't going to get past that series after Golden State left San Antonio with a 1-1 series tie, thoroughly outplaying them in each of the first two games.  The Spurs bounced back, though, and were the better team the rest of the way.

Now, the Spurs face another younger team, but one with a drastically different style than they played in last year's Conference Finals, or this year's Semi-Final matchup.  Memphis has a strong inside game and plays very tough defense.  It promises to be a much lower-scoring series with less transition offense and more fundamental basketball.

Since I have to make a pick, I'm going to take San Antonio.  Both teams have been very impressive, but the Spurs may have just a slight edge.  They have more experience, they have guys who have already won multiple championships, and they have home court advantage.  It's a series that is likely to go seven games, and I'd be surprised if we see any real blowouts.  I'll take Tony Parker and the Big Fundamental to help lead the Spurs to the NBA Finals.

Series Prediction: Spurs in 7 Games 

[Note: This post is from John Trifone.  See his other basketball posts here and/or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyT0122.]