An aged Kevin Garnett, perimeter oriented Andray Blatche, and a young and overlooked Mason Plumlee won't be the class of competition the Miami Heat will play in the Eastern Conference Finals. As much as they struggled to contain Al Jefferson in the first round, they probably will struggle the same in this series.
Chris Bosh was often the biggest player on the court in the Heat's five game series against the Brooklyn Nets, but those days are over. The Miami Heat, and Shane Battier, are likely leaving their small ball ways and gearing to play some smash mouth basketball.
The Heat were out-rebounded by over 5 rebounds per game over the series against the Nets, and that is with them barely playing Mason Plumlee. Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche were the only two big men to play for Brooklyn, with Andrei Kirilenko and Mirza Teletovic spotting back-up minutes at the four -- that's not a very intimidating frontline, and yet Miami was still beat on the glass. However, Miami's eFG% of 56% helps turn the table.
But the Heat know what's ahead of them, after the win Wednesday night LeBron James said, "We still have some business to take care of. But it's great to put ourselves in a position to get to where we want to go."
Blue Collar, Gold Swagger is their motto and theme, although people in Indiana aren't quite sure what that even means. The Pacers typically put all their past problems behind when they play the Heat and bring their A-Game. Indiana prides itself on playing rough basketball, which often turns out to be ugly basketball, and winning by rebounds and defense.
One thing we know of Miami, Udonis Haslem will be ready when called upon. After starting in the first round series against the Bobcats, Haslem was benched and Battier was inserted into the lineup to play small ball against the Nets. Now, Haslem could see himself back into the starting lineup to match the Pacers size. Earlier this season, the Heat tried to start Greg Oden to stall Roy Hibbert, and that failed miserably. Haslem started the second half and controlled Hibbert despite losing by a basket. Two weeks later, Haslem helped embarrass Hibbert in Miami.
Chris Andersen never minds him some physical contact. And Chris Bosh has played enough against the Pacers to know what to do and how to stretch them out. I'm not going to say Roy Hibbert has returned to his dominant self because he never was, averaging only 10 points and over 6 rebounds this season, but he has recovered from his remarkable ghostly performances this postseason. The key will be what Erik Spoelstra decides to do with either Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier, and possibly but not likely Michael Beasley.
The Pacers are skilled and ready to play their smash mouth basketball. Miami will accept it and play to win.
The Heat visit the Pacers Sunday at 3:30 on ABC for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.