Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers goes down Monday night, in what should be a fantastic finale, to a fantastic series. Coming into this series, not a lot of credit was being given to the Pacers, despite how well they had played the Heat in the regular season, and how they had just come off of dismantling of the New York Knicks. On the other hand, the Heat had run through both of their opponents, the Bucks and Bulls, and many expected this to be a six or even five game series, but as the Pacers have shown, they match up very well against the Heat.
For the Pacers, the key is to continue to make the Heat play their game. That’s the plodding half court style where they can make the Heat slow down their pace. David West and Roy Hibbert, should be able to continue to dominate the Heats relatively minuscule front line of Haslem, Anderson and Battier. While the front line of Hibbert and West are almost guaranteed to get their points and rebounds against the weakest part of the Heat’s lineup, the key is going to be whether or not George Hill and Lance Stephenson show up. In the three games the Pacers have won, Hill and Stephenson have combined to for 29 ppg on 44% FG shooting, 41% from three and only 3.5 turnovers, while in their three losses they’ve combined for only 14 ppg on just 26% FG shooting, 28% from three and 5 turnovers. These two may not have the most important job in facing the Heat, but they need to be able to provide something in terms of scoring depth behind Hibbert and Paul George. Speaking of Paul George, he needs to continue to play like the superstar that he’s turning into. He needs to continue to produce at his 21.5 ppg and 50% FG shooting pace, and make those timely shots.
As for the Heat, there are three keys to a Game 7 win, and third straight finals birth. One is that LeBron needs to continue to dominate. For the Heat to win, LeBron has to have another “LeBron-like” performance. That means 30 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds on 55% shooting and just all around controlling the offence, and spear heading the defense. The second key, is that the Heat have to run, get out and make the bigs of Pacers really work getting up and down the court. The Heat have the capability to run this team into the ground, and get so many easy shots due to LeBron’s ability to find anyone on the court. The catch, is that these players spotting up, or slashing to basket, need to finish! That’s most important to guys like Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, who have thrived this season on getting easy baskets and open shots, but have really struggled to get anything going. My final, and most important key is that Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade need to show up to this game. Seriously, this situation is starting to look like Cleveland all over again, and those two have no excuse for how poorly they’ve been playing. Wade may not be 100%, but he needs to at least give them something. He’s so integral to their offence, cutting weak side for easy layups/dunks, and slashing to kick it out to open shooters when the Pacers are taking LeBron out of the picture. Bosh has zero excuse, he needs to make his shots. While he cannot physically go one-on-one with Hibbert and West, he’s got to make them work by using his superior speed and shooting, as well as on defense he’s got to grab a rebound. Bosh averages only 3.7 rebounds a game and that doesn’t cut it for your starting power forward.
There it is, my preview for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. While the Pacers have given the Heat a great run for their money, and made them work hard for everything, I just do not see the Heat losing on their home floor. I’ll take the Heat tonight with Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade to a lesser extent, finally showing showing up, and a typical LeBron-esque performance, as he leads his team past the Pacers, and onto the Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Article by: Matt Wincherauk