I personally think it's quite remarkable that the Miami Heat went from a franchise tying worst 15-67 to the fifth seed of the playoffs, with a 43-39 record.
My Dolphins also had a huge turn-around, going from a franchise worst 1-15 to an impressive 11-5 with the AFC East crown. Not only that, the Marlins are 8-1.
What a great year it's been for Miami sports!
But back to my main focus.
The always interesting matchup of a fourth seed and a fifth seed. I'm going to try to be as unbiased as I possibly can for this article.
Let's start out with the numbers.
The points scored per game are practically even for both teams, along with the field goal percentage at around 40%, assists per game at about 20, and free throws at about 74%.
Defensively, both teams give up around 97 points per game, with the opponent's field goal percentage at 45%, and blocks and steals at around six.
A very interesting matchup is going to be Marvin Williams and Michael Beasley both coming off the bench.
Both of these guys have pretty equal numbers. If one of them can step up and average about 20 points per game for the series to take some pressure off of Joe Johnson or Dwyane Wade, it will be huge for either side.
Let's talk about X-Factor. The X-factor for the Hawks is going to have to be Mike Bibby.
Against the Celtics last season when they took them to seven games he played sloppy and was outplayed by Rajon rondo. But this series, being guarded by a rookie point-guard in Mario Chalmers, he should be able to step up and play his style of basketball.
Dwyane Wade may even have to help guard Mike Bibby if Chalmers starts to fail.
The X-Factor for the heat is going to be Mario Chalmers, obviously. His ability to use his defensive mentality to stop Mike Bibby from controlling the tempo of the game is going to be huge.
He's going to need to score, but not in bunches. His main focus is going to be to stop Mike Bibby and his ability to do so will have a huge affect on the outcome of this series.
The Hawks have a lot of pressure on them. After taking the Celtics to seven last season, fans are going to expect them to protect their home court and not have a first round upset.
The obvious advantage for the Hawks is home court.
The advantage for the Heat is having Dwyane Wade. He's the leading scorer in the NBA and the Hawks are going to have to beat him four times.
Mentally, that's a tough thought—being able to contain Dwyane Wade in a seven game series. The Hawks will need to bring their A game and focus all their attention on Dwyane Wade.
My prediction: Miami Heat in six.
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