Owning up, Heat Back in ECF

They are who we thought they were.

The Miami Heat are just that; too good.

Down 2-games to 1 after blowing the Heat out, the Pacers seemed poised to run the tables in this best-of-seven series and potentially pull off the upset. The Heat looked disorganized and beatable after Dwyane Wade’s five-point performance in game three and the Miami bench a non-factor. Game four was scheduled in Indiana and most analysts – including myself – thought the Pacers would take a 3-1 lead in the series and go on to the Eastern Finals.

But the Heat are just too good to lose to a team like the Indiana Pacers. Wade followed up his five-point effort by dropping 30 along with LeBron James’ 40 in game four. The duo then put in 28 and 30-points respectively in game five and Wade scored 41-points to James’ 28 in the series clinching game-six. With their backs against the wall, Miami willed their way to three-straight victories – scoring 100+ points or more in each of those three – and earn a spot in the Eastern Finals for the second straight year as they await the winner of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers conference semifinal.

Now, as a professional, it is my duty to take a moment right now and do something we professionals hope to do as little as possible: eat our own words. Last week I wrote an article about the Heat’s championship aspirations becoming a far cry. With Wade’s terrible shooting night and the loss in game three followed by the fact Indiana had the advantage of home-court to go up 3-1 in the series, I declared the Heat’s chances of winning this series and James winning his first NBA ring out of the question. But Miami overcame the game three loss and used it to their advantage to win the series in commanding fashion as I questioned how on earth the Pacers were the third best team in the East and how the Chicago Bulls struggled so much against them last year in the first-round.

So, as I said, I have to be a professional after last night and suck it up and eat my words. I was wrong Heat fans and I apologize for not giving your team the benefit of the doubt because even though you did not have Chris Bosh, you still do have two superstars in Wade and James. Next time I will have to put a little more bias aside and look at the matchup a little closer than I did after game three.

This second-round series against the Pacers is exactly what the Heat needed. Despite being punched in the mouth, they came back swinging stronger and pretty much knocked out the Pacers. They are determined not to lose – as was evident in these three straight wins – and we really are seeing the second gear you need in the playoffs to succeed and win championships. Something the Bulls currently lack.

Miami is on cruse control and there is no one that appears capable of beating them—the winner of Boston/Philadelphia will be having circles ran around them. Look West and the only team that has a chance to keep Miami from the Promised Land is the San Antonio Spurs.

Oklahoma City has to be ruled out because they are young first of all, and they too must rely on their trio to carry them—Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Hardin. But for most of this team, it would be their first Finals appearance and it is a lot to ask for the Thunder to take down the Heat.

The Heat earned themselves and Bosh an extra day to rest before the conference finals matchup and he should be back sometime in that series and if not, definitely ready for the NBA Finals.

While the Spurs lack the athleticism of Miami’s superstars, they pose a major threat.

Greg Popovich takes the coaching matchup in this series hands down. I have no doubt the coach-of-the-year will have his team ready to win a fifth championship. Tim Duncan will over-power Bosh in the paint. The Heat lack a truly skilled point-guard and that will be displayed with San Antonio’s Tony Parker at the point. Manu Ginobili did not play in their only matchup of the regular season as the Spurs were blown out 120-98. A final note, Duncan’s career record against the Heat is 17-8.

Personally, I would love an old men Finals in the Celtics and Spurs for one last hurrah for both franchises. However, I would not disapprove of a Heat and Spurs title clash. Both of these teams are playing at a level above the NBA and are the two strongest breeds remaining in this year’s playoffs.

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