NBA Playoffs 2013: Predicting Winners of Wednesday's Round 2 Games
The NBA playoff docket is loaded with teams looking for statement wins in Game 2.
After falling to the Chicago Bulls at home in what was a disappointing offensive performance, the Miami Heat will look to even the series up at one game apiece.
Chicago will hope to make another statement of its own, though. Depleted by injuries, there's no better way to do that than by snagging two straight victories in South Beach.
The San Antonio Spurs nearly fell at home to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1, but managed to come back from 16 points down in the final four minutes to secure a double-overtime victory.
Golden State, meanwhile, will look to pick up where it left offensively before its collapse in hopes of heading home with the series tied at one game apiece.
Which teams will be able to tie the series, and which are destined to fall in a 2-0 hole?
Let's find out.
Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
Chicago stole Game 1 in Miami 93-86 behind inspiring performances from its new Big Three—Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson—and the Heat aren't going to want to let that happen again.
In Game 1, the Bulls defense proved too much for the Heat to handle. And through the first three quarters, that included LeBron James, who was just 3-of-9 from the field leading into the fourth. Butler did a magnificent job on him.
Miami as a team just wasn't hitting shots. The Heat connected on a mere 39.7 percent of their field-goal attempts overall and 29.2 percent of their deep balls.
Though a strong defensive faction, Miami can't afford to play Chicago's grit-and-grind style of basketball in Game 2. The Heat's success is predicated upon their excess of firepower; they're supposed to be able to torch stringent defensive units like the Bulls. But in Game 1, they didn't.
They also didn't figure out a way to mitigate Chicago's advantage in the post. The Bulls outscored the Heat 40-32 in the paint and were a plus-14 on the boards (46-32).
If Miami wishes to reverse its Game 1 fortunes Wednesday night, it's going to have to find ways to remain competent in the post and on the glass. And again, it needs someone other than LeBron to step up on offense.
For the Bulls, Game 2 is all about staying the course.
They were able to eliminate the Heat's fast-break opportunities and force them into contested jumpers in Game 1, which they must continue to do. They must also continue to move the ball and get into the paint on offense.
Chicago isn't a strong offensive combine, but against the Heat, points will come if the ball is worked around the perimeter and Robinson remains a drive-and-kick threat.
Luol Deng will be out (Kirk Hinrich is questionable) once again, so it's imperative that the Bulls stick to what worked in Game 1 and hope Miami isn't able to make enough adjustments.
Which team will win Game 2?
That said, the Bulls had four players log at least 39 minutes Monday night in Game 1, so fatigue could come into play here. The Heat aren't accustomed to their physical style of play, but at home, with a loss still fresh on their minds, I don't see them dropping Game 2.
If the Bulls are able to take Miami's three-point prowess and transition offense out of the equation once again, we'll have ourselves another tightly contested matchup. But even then, there's a less-than-slim chance that the Heat's offensive arsenal comes up as empty as it did for a second straight game.
Prediction: Heat 95, Bulls 89
Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
I'd go out on a limb and guarantee the Warriors and Spurs aren't fated for another double-overtime thriller, but I've seen enough of both teams to understand that remains a possibility.
Golden State nearly stole Game 1 in San Antonio. In fact, it should have stole Game 1. Up 16 points with four minutes usually signifies the start of garbage time, but for the Spurs, it was the beginning of a momentous comeback.
To be fair, it was the start of garbage time for the Warriors. They went 1-of-8 from the field in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, welcoming San Antonio back into the game with open arms.
Prior to that point, the Warriors were mostly sensational, though. They hit on 56.6 percent of their shots leading into the final four minutes of the fourth quarter and 40.9 percent of their deep balls. They were also holding the Spurs to 36.6 percent shooting overall.
From the final four minutes of the fourth quarter on, though, Golden State hit on 33.3 percent of its field goals (25 percent from three) and allowed the Spurs to connect on 69.6 percent of theirs. It was an absolute disaster.
For the Warriors to claim Game 2 the way they should have Game 1, they'll need to run their offense for a full four quarters. Rushing shots and then settling for threes when they aren't there (more than usual) just isn't going to work.
They've also got to put forth a competent defensive effort. They had the Spurs put away, and then all of a sudden, they were the ones with their backs up against the wall.
Though the Spurs arguably don't have the firepower the Warriors do, they can score in a hurry, as evidenced in the fourth quarter of Game 1. What they need to do is run more of the pick-and-rolls that Golden State had trouble defending at tines. Winning the battle in the paint would help as well.
As dominant as the Warriors were for most of regulation in Game 1, it took another third-quarter outburst from Stephen Curry and a limited Tim Duncan for them to pull away. And they never really pulled away.
Which team will win Game 2?
Golden State can expect Curry to drop 40-plus at will, but it can't expect San Antonio to struggle offensively the way it did for much of Game 1.
Still at home, clad with a better understanding of how to limit Curry and the rest of the Warriors' three-point brigade, expect the Spurs to secure another victory in Game 2.
Prediction: Spurs 108, Warriors 105
All stats in this article were compiled from NBA.com unless otherwise noted.
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