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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fantastic Five

The Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers tonight, winning the Eastern Conference Semifinal series, 4-2. The Heat will play in the Eastern Conference Finals against the winner of Game 7 between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics in Boston.

As of today we have five teams still alive in the NBA for the 2012 championship. Let's break down the participants and their prospects.


Philadelphia 76ers – Great year for the Sixers and their fans. Outstanding job by Coach Doug Collins. Break out the “I76” by G. Love and Special Sauce.

Stick a fork in ‘em; they’re done. I know I said this when they played the Bulls, even after the Derrick Rose injury, in the first round. Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.

It's a little late for Philly to turn to The Doctor. 3
Boston Celtics – Interestingly, only seven teams have lost a Game 7 at home during the last 10 seasons (including 2012). The Celtics account for two of those losses. In fact, in the 66 year history of the (now 30 team) NBA, there have only been 22 times a team dropped a Game 7 at home. The Celtics franchise accounts for four such instances.

Well, Sixers fan, I hope that made you feel better. It ain’t happening on Saturday. Future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, whose combination of forces led to the Celtics’ 2008 NBA Championship, their first in 22 years, could possibly be playing their final game together as teammates due to contract and salary cap issues. I think one would have to pry this game from their cold, dead fingers. That, and the 76ers have outplayed their abilities, have not shot well in the series (an omen of doom in a road playoff elimination game), and simply do not have the total talent that the Celtics have.

Miami Heat – Considering the injury to Chris Bosh and the one game suspension of forward Udonis Haslem, I expected the physical Indiana Pacers to force a Game 7 in Miami. The Heat did themselves a huge favor by winning tonight. The Eastern Conference Finals will start on Monday. The 76ers and aging Celtics (whom I, and most, believe will win on Saturday) will battle to the end for the right to travel to Miami and face the Heatles on only one full day of rest.

Bosh will have more time to recover and the 30-something trio of Garnett, Allen, and Pierce will have to keep going like the Energizer Bunny. I expect the Heat to be in the Finals, advancing in 6 games if they face the Celtics or, should the miraculous happen, sweeping the Sixers in four games.

Dwyane Wade score 41 against the Pacers in Game 6. 2


Oklahoma City Thunder – It is going to be a lot of fun watching the Thunder, who have grown before the eyes of basketball fans during the past three seasons, go toe-to-toe with one to the best teams franchises in recent years, the San Antonio Spurs. I expect the Thunder to be very difficult to beat at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. I simply do not see how they beat the Spurs, who haven’t lost to anyone since April 11th (before we forked our hard earned money to Uncle Sam), at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, even once.

In the unlikely event that the Thunder can nab one game in San Antonio, they may have some hope. Otherwise, this promising team of young stars will have to endure one more growing pain on the path to greatness.

San Antonio Spurs – This could be the final championship run for their trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker. They are going out with a bang, having won 18 consecutive games. I think that streak comes to an end against the second seeded Thunder, but the Spurs may have done so much damage to the Thunder in this series by the time they suffer that streak-ending loss, that it may be no more than a hiccup on the Spurs’ road to a fifth NBA Championship in 14 seasons.
"There's more where this came from." 1

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