The Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs have finally arrived, and with no surprises. While the Indiana Pacers got pushed to their limits by the Atlanta Hawks in round one, they escaped a full seven game series and got through round to battle the Miami Heat.
Miami had zero trouble in round one with a sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats, and lost just one game to the Brooklyn Nets in round two. Both team’s quick outs in the second round of the playoffs had them wrapping up their second series at the same time, giving neither a distinct advantage.
In fact, with center Roy Hibbert finally coming alive in the second round of the playoffs, the number one-seeded Pacers might actually hold the upper hand in this series. Indiana clearly has the edge in size and scoring down low, as David West and Roy Hibbert should win most battles against Chris Bosh and the Miami spare bigs.
It’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Indiana has to worry about, although both Paul George and Lance Stephenson seem to be more than up to the task to try to limit them.
The seven game Eastern Conference Finals series starts out in Indy’s advantage regardless of what you think of the matchup, as game one lands in Indiana.
Still, these two sides were highly competitive during the 2013-14 NBA regular season and there isn’t much to work with to suggest one holds a distinct edge over the other.
What we do know for sure, however, is that both teams can play elite team defense when they put their minds to it, and that the Pacers are probably Miami’s toughest matchup throughout the entire Eastern Conference. If the Heat’s bid for a three-peat title run is going to end, it probably starts with Indiana getting the job done in game one at home. It won’t be easy, but that’s exactly what the Pacers should do.
Pick: Pacers 89, Heat 86