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Monday, June 3, 2013

Game Seven!


The NBA Eastern Conference Finals will come to a close tonight. The Indiana Pacers, fresh off of a big win at home over the Miami Heat in Game 6, travel to South Beach for tonight's game in an attempt to shock the sports world and dethrone the defending NBA Champions. It is one game for all the marbles and perhaps the most exciting situation in sports - a decisive 7th game in a playoff series.

The Miami Heat were favored coming into this series, but many, myself included, are not surprised that Indiana has made a deep run in the series. Indiana has been a physical, sharply executing defensive team all season. They protect the rim well and grab rebounds as well as any team in the NBA. All season, the Heat's Achilles heel has been post play. They have compensated for that deficiency all season with a finesse game that includes sharp perimeter shooting, speedy ball movement, a ball-hawking defense that forces turnovers, a ruthlessly efficient transition game and the Herculean physicality (not to mention superior all-around skills) of four-time MVP LeBron James.

Roy Hibbert (left), David West (right) and the Pacers showed that LeBron James (center) "stretching them out" won't necessarily keep them from winning, no homo (smh).


Indiana wins if: They play their "A" game. The Pacers need to play the equivalent of a pitcher in baseball throwing a shutout. Give Miami nothing in the lane, nothing in the post, and nothing under the boards. Make the Heat as uncomfortable along the perimeter as possible. In short, if Indiana does everything exactly right to the best of its ability, they could pull off a colossal, shocking upset.

Indiana loses if: They lose the turnover battle. The Heat will eat the Pacers alive off of turnovers. If the Pacers' guards get into early foul trouble, Dwyane Wade will get the freedom he needs to overcome his ailing legs. If that happens in Miami, the Pacers are finished.

Miami wins if: They don't do anything stupid. All Miami has to do is show up and do the things they are supposed to do. They are not rebounding juggernauts and do not have to be. The do not bang well with bigs in the paint and they don't have to. If the Heat force turnovers, are sharp in transition, are crisp at the free throw line and none of their "big three" get into early foul trouble, I don't think it matters what the Pacers do. This game is in Miami, the crowd is with the Heat, the closer calls always tilt towards the home team, the Heat are comfortable in their own building and the Pacers are the ones traveling.

Miami loses if: Everything goes to hell early. If Dwyane Wade takes shots that don't find the basket, he will be playing directly into Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel's game plan. If Chris Bosh remains ice cold, it will play into the Pacers' hands. If Ray Allen continues his inexplicable tribute to Shaq at the foul line, it gives the Pacers hope. If none of the role players - Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, or Mike Miller - can give Miami a lift, the Pacers will have one less obstacle to winning the Eastern Conference title. If LeBron James racks up unnecessary fouls in succession like he did in the fourth quarter of Game 4, the Heat will have big problems in a close game. In short: Miami loses if they give the game away.

Advantage: Heat - No way will the defending champs lose a Game 7 at home unless LeBron James gets injured early and misses most of the game.     

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