Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers
Indiana don’t get enough penetration in their halfcourt offense. Too much of their action happens with the ball in front of the defense instead of getting in behind the defense and forcing the opposition’s defense off balance and into help defense sequences. This allows the opposing team’s defense to stay in between the ball and hoop which in turn leads leads to too many low to medium percentage shot attempts. In other words, they don’t cause the opposition’s defense enough problems and fail to generate a high enough number of quality shot attempts.
Defensively, their interior defense isn’t strong enough to handle slashers of Dwyane Wade’s and LeBron James’ ability consistently over a seven game series. Roy Hibbert is too slow and immobile to consistent deterrent to these players and none of Indiana’s other bigs (David West, Tyler Hansbrough, Louis Amundson) provide any sort of rim protection.
If Miami were to move Chris Bosh to center (against Hibbert) and played small (LeBron at PF with Battier at SF), they’d run Indiana right off the court. A four game sweep. The Pacers would have no chance against Miami’s quickness and spread out offense.
Unfortunately, Spoelstra continues to refuse to do just that and instead plays less effective lineups (starting Haslem) which will allow the Pacers to make more of a game of it. So it’ll drag out another game or two before Miami finishes them off. A medium length series, five or six games, probably six.
Miami will always have another gear that Indiana simply can’t match.
Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers
PG – Rondo vs Holiday – advantage Boston
SG – Bradley vs Turner
SF – Pierce vs Iggy
PF – Bass vs Brand
C – Garnett vs Hawes – advantage Boston
I am going to be conservative and call the Iggy-Pierce matchup neutral. Pierce is the more talented player but Iguodala has done quite well against him over the last few years. So neutral or maybe slight advantage Pierce.
I also think that Bass and Brand is neutral. Brand is the perfect type of offensive player for Bass to matchup against defensively. He should do a good job on Brand.
The battle at shooting guard should be a good one. Turner should have the advantage with his superb size and ability to create extra possessions but I think his limitations as a shot-creator and scorer versus Bradley’s quick footed defense will end up giving many of those extra possessions right back to Boston (with Turner taking several low percentage midrange and long two point jump-shots and being an inefficient / ineffective scorer).
The Sixers should put Jrue Holiday on Bradley and Turner on Rondo.
PG – Dooling vs Lou Williams – advantage Philly
SG – Ray vs Meeks – advantage Boston
SF – Pietrus vs Thaddeus Young – advantage Philly
PF – JJJ or S.Williams vs L.Allen
C – Stiemsma vs Vucevic – possible advantage Boston
It looks like Doug Collins has lost faith in Vucevic and has been using Lavoy Allen as his primary backup big man. I don’t understand that at all. L.Allen is a very limited player. Anyway, if that continues, that would pit Stiemsma against L.Allen and I think that creates another advantage for Boston off the bench.
Thaddeus Young’s advantage is more about his ability to play the PF position at a good level than how he matches up against Pietrus. When pitted against Pietrus, a fairly neutral matchup.
Boston are strong favourites in a playoff series against Philly.
San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Clippers
Interesting matchup between two teams who share many characteristics but have a few differences too.
Similarities — high level offensive teams with mediocre defenses with offenses that predominantly led by pick and roll offense.
Differences — Spurs are a very deep team with lots of contributors while the Clippers rely heavily on their big two and rarely get much out of their supporting cast. Spurs trust their ball movement and team play more than a Chris Paul-led Clippers offense that is more PG centric.
This series could be really tight. I am pulling hard for the Spurs though and hoping to see them go through in a long (6 or 7 game) series.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Los Angeles Lakers
A lot is made of the Lakers advantage in the paint with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in this matchup but not nearly enough is being said about the Thunder’s advantage with speed and quickness.
Yes, Oklahoma will have some problems with the Lakers inside but they will also be able to cause LA major problems with their transition offense + pick and roll offense. Their quickness and athleticism vs the Lakers post offense and potentially overwhelming size.
Late in the regular season, I was watching a late season matchup between these two sides (Lakers won in a close game), the inescapable thought in mind was that while LA was playing very well … That OKC had another notch they could turn up while the Lakers would hard pressed to better that performance consistently over a seven game series.
And the Thunder almost won that night without Harden after Artest knocked him on his head + with Durant and Westbrook having subpar offensive nights + they created enough good shooting opportunities to win, it was just one of those nights where the shots didn’t go down. So my conclusion in all of this was that OKC should be able to take and beat the Lakers over a seven game series and that they will have a pretty decent margin for error in doing so.
I like the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games here.