NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Playoffs 2nd Round Preview

Posted by Michael Kelly on Monday, May 05, 2014 with No comments
Indiana Pacers (1) vs Washington Wizards (5)

Considering the Indiana Pacers have fought all season to have home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs, they were woeful at home in the first round. In truth, they were terrible at home and away against the Hawks, who almost pulled off one of the biggest shocks in recent Playoff history, taking the first seed all the way to seven games before eventually losing.

Roy Hibbert has often found
himself on the bench
Pacers’ big man Roy Hibbert has been a forlorn figure on the court so far during the playoffs, looking more animated when he has been left on the bench due to his poor performances than he has looked on the court. So anonymous was the 7’2” center that his combined stats for games 4 and 5 against the Hawks were 0 points and 2 rebounds, not what you want from a player recently named to his second all-star team.

In truth, the Pacers have as a whole have been very poor over the last few months. Paul George quickly fell out of the argument for the MVP race, and was inconsistent against the Hawks. George Hill has failed to make any kind of impact, and even one of the league’s most improved players over the last two seasons, Lance Stephenson, did not play as we have come to expect of him.

The Wizards made it to the Eastern Conference semi-finals after a relatively comfortable victory in five games against the Chicago Bulls. The Wizards offense was too much even for the Bulls, one of the best defensive teams in their league, and they did not have the offensive firepower to keep up the youthful Wizards.

The Wizards will give the Pacers similar problems that they faced against the Hawks; an athletic point guard that can get into the paint at will, two wing players who can shoot the lights out, and big men who will be relentless on the glass at both ends of the floor. What the Wizards do not have, however, is a big man who can step out to the three point line and stretch the defense. This will help Hibbert to remain in the paint, and potentially allow him to recapture his form.

The Pacers will need to figure out their problems and work to correct them fast for this series, especially on defense. The Pacers had the best defense in the league during the regular season, but if they do not find a way to pull themselves out of this slump, they could easily suffer the same fate as the Bulls.

Winner: Pacers in 6

Miami Heat (2) vs Brooklyn Nets (6)

The Miami Heat have had plenty of time to rest for this series having made light work of the Bobcats in round one, winning the series comfortably in four games. After Al Jefferson sustained a plantar fascia injury in the first game of the series, any threat the up and coming Bobcats posed to the Heat was extinguished as quickly as a flame starved of oxygen.

Miami showed flashes of the form that has led them to two straight NBA Championships and three consecutive Finals appearances; however, they have yet to give 48 consistent minutes in a game. The Heat were able to get out to big leads, but a number of times stepped off the gas and allowed the Bobcats back into the game; they will need to prevent this from happening against the Nets.

The Heat’s bench production has been lacking at times, with LeBron James having to carry much of the offensive load for his team. Miami fans will be hoping to see Michael Beasley make a return from injury after being absent throughout the previous series, as he has the ability to put up a lot of points in limited minutes when given an opportunity off the bench.

Dwyane Wade has shown flashes of the player we know he can be, but Miami will need him to produce a lot more if they want to make another run at the title. After playing in all four games in the first round, Wade has had plenty of time to rest his ailing knees for the next round, and will be secretly hoping for a quick finish to this series too.

Deron Williams "Missing" Poster
outside Barclays Center
The Nets have continued their late season form after toppling the much improved Toronto Raptors in seven hard fought games. They kept pace with the athletic Raptors team and their greater experience showed as they saw out close games on multiple occasions. Joe Johnson showed flashes of play that demonstrated what he did to earn the big contract he is currently on, closing out a number of games for Brooklyn.

Most of the talk, however, has been on the subject of the performances of Deron Williams, who has been relatively anonymous throughout the playoffs. So anonymous, in fact, that a poster was attached outside the arena claiming that Williams was “missing”! Miami have always had a torrid time playing against star point guards, and Williams will need to rekindle they type of form he had during his time in Utah to pose a threat to the Heat.

This promises to be an excellent series, with the animosity between the Heat and the former Celtics players, Pierce and Garnett, now felt between these two teams. If Brook Lopez were available for this series the Heat may have struggled to qualify. However, without him, it is hard to see the Nets posing a major threat to Miami.

Winner: Heat in 5