Blogs & Opinion


NBA Play-Offs: Alex Ferguson looks at Heat v Pacers and Spurs v Thunder

Alex Ferguson - Alex Ferguson Posted 20th May 2014 view comments

The first rounds of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference play-offs have come and gone, and we're in finals stage, with the winners playing for a place in the finals.

Eastern Conference Finals: Miami v Indiana

LeBron James prefaced the first game of the series by saying in the Heat locker room: "They don't like us and we don't like them", which is about right in one of the NBA's best modern day rivalries.

LeBron James celebrates beating Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference semi-finals but the Heat now face the Pacers

LeBron James celebrates beating Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference semi-finals but the Heat now face the Pacers

You know about the Heat. Ray Allen with the last-gasp three-pointer to win it all in 2013. LeBron. Chris Bosh. Dwayne Wade.

You probably don't know a whole lot about the Indiana Pacers, who owned the Eastern Conference's No.1 seed after a spectacular regular season and owned the Miami Heat in Game 1, 107-96, with six players in double figures.

The Pacers have got stars. Sure, they aren't LeBron, Chris or Dwayne, but if you said to any GM in basketball: "Would you like Paul George?", they'd bite your hand off.

And also - as the Pacers showed - they are good as a team. They finished the season second in the league in defense, and they choked the Heat in Game 1.

Which is strange, because getting to this match-up, Indiana hasn't exactly been at its best. Atlanta took them to a Game 7 in the first round. They beat Washington in six. And Miami? They've only lost on play-off game, and that was to Brooklyn (they beat Charlotte in 4 and Brooklyn in 5). But if the Pacers are in tip-top shape, then this series is going to be awesome.

Game 2 on Tuesday night is going to be a war. Miami wants to win to avoid going 2-0 down while Indiana could do without dropping a home game before their trip to Florida for Games 3, 4 and 5.

Indiana will be hoping that Wade, who had 27 points last time out, and LeBron, who had 25 and 10 rebounds, are actually supported by more of their starting cast who didn't get out of first gear on Sunday night.

Anyway, this whole series is going to be fun. Who's going to be left at the end? We just don't know.

PREDICTION: This goes seven games. And we're taking Miami. Western Conference Finals: San Antonio v Oklahoma City

On Monday night, San Antonio put paid to the "this team's pretty old" tag by thrashing the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-109, with oldies Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili putting on a show.

Getting to this, it wasn't easy for the Spurs who battled Dallas all the way to a deciding Game 7 and then beat Portland more comfortably in 5.

Oklahoma City battled Memphis to 7 in its Round 1, and then more comfortably beat the LA Clippers in Round 2.

But this isn't going to be comfortable for Oklahoma City, who boast two of the country's best players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It certainly wasn't on Monday night, when the Spurs managed to put a stopper on everyone except Westbrook and Durant while letting Ginobili score from the bench, and getting four out of five of their starters to hit double figures.

But all series long San Antonio is going to have to deal with Durant, the league's top scorer, and Westbrook, who is averaging 8.1 assists per game. That's the best in these play-offs amongst surviving players. The Thunder is going to have to deal with Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Ginobili coming off the bench.

The biggest loss for Oklahoma City may be in their defensive firepower. Serge Ibaka was out of Game 1 with a calf strain and is thought to be out for the rest of the play-offs although Parker didn't believe them on Sunday, and probably won't believe them if the Spurs start putting their rivals into a deeper hole.

Ibaka gives the Thunder such a presence in the paint that Nick Collison - Ibaka's veteran replacement - is going to have to play like a God to stop the Spurs charges.

What might benefit Oklahoma City is San Antonio's injury list. Duncan suffered from a hurt knee in the opening round (although he recovered nicely - but is he 100%?). Parker has a dodgy hamstring. And there's also the fact that as much as these Spurs are battle-tested, will this series going to seven exhaust the band of 30-somethings, playing the Thunder's fresher, younger team?

This is going to be fun.

PREDICTION: Spurs win in six in a cracking series.

back to top

Other Blogs:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....

comments

Kevin Phillips

Phillips: Five-star Foxes

Leicester forwards coach Kevin Phillips analyses each of their five goals against Manchester United....

Martin Tyler

Tyler's stats and facts

Who's played for the most teams? Which nation gets most goals? Martin Tyler has the stats......

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....

comments

Guillem Balague

Guillem: Messi has changed

Guillem Balague explains how Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are playing new roles this season....

Jonathan Davies

Davies: High tempo

Jonathan Davies blogs on injuries, his team's tempo and catching up with Welsh opponents after games....

Barrie vs Terry

Barrie v Terry

Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor go head-to-head with their Super League play-off predictions......

Phil Clarke

A Super finish

Phil Clarke picks his most improved player of the Super League XIX season, but do you agree?...

Barrie vs Terry

Barrie v Terry

Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor go head-to-head with their Super League predictions......

Alex Hammond

Alex Hammond Blog

Alex Hammond looks ahead to another big weekend of racing...

Alex Hammond

Hear the Music!

Alex Hammond looks ahead to the weekend's racing including the feature Betfred Sprint Cup....

Alex Hammond

Look to the Future

Alex Hammond on a fantastic week at York and picks three best bets for this weekend, including Godolphin's Future Empire...

Neal Foulds

Selby steel

New world champion Mark Selby's the master of match play, says Neal Foulds - but what's next for Ronnie?...

comments

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

comments

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Back on track

Lakeside can make it two wins over Belle Vue Aces in four days, says Kelvin Tatum, but it'll be close!...

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Hit the road

Swindon are struggling this season but will fancy their chances at Birmingham, says Kelvin Tatum....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Racing away

Belle Vue are unbeaten at home but Kelvin Tatum asks if they can transfer that form at Swindon....

comments

Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......

comments

Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....

comments

Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....

comments

Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...

0 comments

Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....

2 comments

Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....

0 comments