NBA Playoffs: Breaking Down the Possible Finals Matchups
The NBA Playoffs have been extremely eventful, yet somehow the final four make sense. There are no shockers or surprises in the Conference Finals, except maybe the Boston Celtics, in a playoff series full of them.
The Conference Finals can be predicted as being full of very close games as all teams are pretty evenly matched. At this point, either team on each side could take the series. Every possibility is realistic. With that said, each team has individual strengths and weakness. If they make it to the finals, what will make and break them?
The Miami Heat
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
One continuous problem with the Miami Heat is that no one is ever sure if they will get it together. If they do get the whole unit working, there is no guarantee that they will keep it together for an entire quarter, game or series.
If the Miami Heat end up playing either the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder, then there is no room for their frequent nonsense. The Spurs play a focused and unemotional game, while the Miami Heat struggle at times in basic areas, like teamwork. Chris Broussard pointed out that when pressure is high in Miami they play like a group of individuals.
Chris Bosh's injury is another major factor in addressing a finals series that includes Miami. Even if the Heat continue to play the way that they did to knock out the Indiana Pacers, in their last three games against the Pacers, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have combined for 197 points. They truly do need Bosh in the finals. The Miami Heat were constructed to win a championship with three—not two. They can't beat the Spurs or the Thunder without Bosh.
The Boston Celtics
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Boston Celtics are the closest thing to a wild card in the final four. One question to ask when examining the Celtics is, "would they still be here if they played in the Western Conference?" The competition just didn't seem as thick in the East as it was in the West, especially after the Derrick Rose injury that played a major role in the elimination of the Chicago Bulls. In addition, the New York Knicks had to play the Miami Heat in the first round, and it is arguable that if the Heat would have played another team, then the Knicks might be in the Celtics' spot.
Is it possible that the Celtics haven't faced competition on the level that the Oklahoma City Thunder or the San Antonio Spurs are at thus far in the playoffs? Adding to that, losing Avery Bradley hurts if you are the Boston Celtics. The guard, who is scheduled to undergo surgery later this week, is vital to the Celtics' success against the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams are packed with high scorers, who can make 3-pointers.
Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo will be the underdogs against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and against the Spurs, but then again, every team seems to be the underdog against the Spurs. However, Lebron James told the Miami Herald's Joseph Goodman that Rondo is difficult to guard, and he has excellent ability to creates opportunities for the team. In the finals will this be enough?
The San Antonio Spurs
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
At this point, it isn't possible to seriously critique the San Antonio Spurs. They seem to lack weakness, emotion, and human error. At some point, someone will have to beat them, but will that happen before the playoffs end? If the Thunder can't beat the Spurs, do the Heat or the Celtics stand a chance?
The Heat might, but it's pretty much 50/50. They might have more talent than the Spurs, especially with Bosh healthy, but the Spurs are a better team and excel in teamwork. The Celtics would need a fully healthy roster to pose a serious challenge to the Spurs, who in addition to everything else, don't seem susceptible to injury.
In between making fun of each other, the NBA half-time show's hosts sum up the general feelings on San Antonio. They allude to the point that the only weakness of the Spurs is that they could kill the finals series TV ratings because of their lack of ability to draw media attention. Other then that, it is impossible to say anything negative about the team because it's like watching an NBA All-Star or Olympic team play.
Good luck to the team that has to play the Spurs.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
It would seem that the Oklahoma City Thunder, like the Miami Heat, were strategically structured to win championships. They are almost like a perfect blend between the Spurs and the Heat, with the Heat's youthful talent and the Spurs' drama-free, cool, and collected demeanor.
The biggest obstacle that the Thunder face are the Spurs. If they can beat the Spurs, then the Celtics or the Heat will be significantly easier with each team missing an important member of their unit: Chris Bosh and Avery Bradley.
The Thunder lack the pressure that the Heat have to win. Miami has been expected to make good on its promises to win a championship for a season or two now, and the pressure is mounting up.
The have a top scorer in Kevin Durant and a sixth man of the year in James Harden, and Serge Ibaka can pace Kevin Garnett, the one to worry about for the Celtics at the forward position. With Chris Bosh's status still unknown, Miami won't pose a huge challenge to the Thunder.