The Miami Heat's Path to the NBA Finals

Amit BatraCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: (L-R) Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat look on against the New York Knicks  in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The Miami Heat has just dropped its first playoff game to the New York Knicks.  After the Heat dominated the first three games of the series, the Knicks were poised to win a game by leader Carmelo Anthony.  Anthony was a force to be reckoned with in the late stages of the fourth quarter. 

However, the Heat had their chances.  Miami was able to narrow the gaps due to missed free throws from both Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.  LeBron James came alive at the end and proved why he's a top five player in the league.  I was scratching my head as to why he didn't get the last shot in the game when the Heat were down by two. 

Miami should win its first-round series on Wednesday night back at home.  The Heat were tied with the San Antonio Spurs for best home record in the NBA this season with an impressive 28-5 mark.  The Heat are a completely different animal at American Airlines Arena. 

If the Heat do end the series Wednesday night, chances are they will see the Indiana Pacers in the second round.  Indiana has some very good players with Danny Granger, David West, etc.  The Pacers could be a threat, but the Heat should be able to roll into the Eastern Conference Finals.  The team I see standing on the other side will be the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics have been on a tear recently.  Led by the "Big Four" of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, the Celtics should be able to close out the series against the Atlanta Hawks and most likely be able to overcome the Philadelphia 76ers.  Philly has the talent to beat an injured Chicago Bulls team, but does not have the experience to take down an experienced, veteran ball club such as the Boston Celtics.

The Heat will have some trouble with Boston and its firepower.  Allen has been battling injury but can still shoot a high percentage.  Pierce is still the leader of the club and has been incredible against Atlanta. 

Garnett is still practically the old "KG."  Rondo has been a stat machine with the number of assists and rebounds he has been putting up on a daily basis.  I still predict the Heat to win that series in six. 

As for the finals, expect the Lakers, Thunder, or Spurs to be on the other side against Miami.  My guess would be the Thunder with all the weapons they have.  The series against the Dallas Mavericks really showed me a great deal about Oklahoma City—to be able to sweep the defending champions says a lot. 

Look for Miami and Oklahoma City to be a battle.  If you want my prediction, the Heat are holding the championship after seven games.