Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat
This will be a long series.
Indiana posed somewhat of a threat to Miami last postseason, but the Heat still managed to advance with little resistance after falling behind 2-1. It'll be a different story this year.
The Pacers will find a way to take the Heat's three-point shot further out of their offensive equation and force them to rely on LeBron James' dribble penetration more than usual.
They'll also be able to match up extremely well against an ailing Dwyane Wade. His attack to the rim has already been limited, and his opportunities at the basket will be fewer and further between as long as Roy Hibbert manages to stay out of foul trouble.
Still, the Heat are too resourceful on the offensive side of the ball, and the Pacers are much too inconsistent when it comes to scoring. Paul George may limit LeBron for stretches at a time like Jimmy Butler did, but no one in the league is equipped to restrict James for a full seven games.
LeBron will carry his Heat past a younger Pacers team and into the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season.
Prediction: Heat in seven
Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs jumped out to an early lead in the series, but we have a long ways to go.
Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan have disappeared on offense for stretches at times through the first two rounds, and Tony Parker proved to be an efficiency wild card against the Warriors. Now facing the best defensive team in the Western Conference (and perhaps the league), San Antonio is in for a rude awakening.
Unlike most teams in the NBA (the Grizzlies included), the Spurs do have plenty of scorers that can come off the bench and wreak havoc from the perimeter, so the struggles of their Big Three aren't as crippling. But the Grizzlies defense isn't to be trifled with, and neither are the offensive stylings of Marc Gasol.
Prior to Game 1, Memphis was playing on a whole other level and has shown it can manhandle the West's best teams. Even after San Antonio's convincing victory Sunday afternoon, I see the Grizzlies being far too physical and pace-controlling for the Spurs to become four-victories-worth of an exception.
Prediction: Grizzlies in six