May 24, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) and forward LeBron James (6) talk to each other during a timeout against the Indiana Pacers during the second half in game six of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Miam defeated Indiana 105-93. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

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Heating Up

Miami faced some adversity. After winning game one, Chris Bosh was sidelined and Indiana won the next two games. Trailing 2-1 in the series, the Heat relied on their superstars to beat a the up and coming Pacers. From the get-go, you knew this matchup would be physical. Indiana flew under the radar all season long. I believed in them during that Chicago series last postseason.

I thought they would challenge Miami in competitive fashion, but didn’t expect that to translate into many victories. I picked the Heat to win in 5, but looking back I think they would have swept Indiana with a healthy Bosh. LeBron James is a 3-time MVP for a reason. I get the “King James” nickname because he really does it all. The true definition of closing a game comes with 4 minutes remaining. It often goes unnoticed, but that’s when the losing team tries to turn it on for a final run. Or, the winning team wants to finish them with the dagger. James is a closer, it just so happens that Miami has the luxury of having Wade as well.

Usually, James carries the squad throughout the game and Wade will pick and choose his spots. Wade, more times than not, steps up as the ultimate closer down the stretch. What I would do is have those studs run a pick and roll in the clutch. In doing so, two of the best players in the world are part of the play with the game on the line, instead of watching one of them stand in the corner away from the action.

Anyways, the Pacers fought a valiant effort but couldn’t take advantage at home in game 6. Udonis Haslem elevated his scoring and was the x-factor in Miami’s game 5 win. He was suspended, along with another big man in Dexter Pittman. Indiana’s front line had a successful first half against the thin interior presence, but the stars came out and took care of business. Miami is heating up with three straight victories to eliminate the Pacers, and will get some time to rest while Boston and Philadelphia settle game 7 of their series.

May 23, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) drives against Philadelphia 76ers small forward Andre Iguodala (9) during the second half of game six of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers defeated the Celtics, 82-75. The 76ers tied the series at 3 games each. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Game 7

It’s easy to go with Boston because of their experience. It’s also easy to look over Philadelphia, a young team without a go-to guy. This has been ugly and hard to watch, similar to the 76ers-Bulls series. Tough defensive teams with inconsistent offense, the survivor gets a date in South Beach. To be honest, it doesn’t matter who pulls game 7 because they’re days are numbered. As much as I’d love to make a bold prediction, I can only call it like I see it. The Celtics get a couple days rest, and they are the better team that will advance to the next round. Would I be surprised if Philadelphia won? Yes, but it’s not like they have a legitimate shot at the title.

76ers need Andre Iguodala to play at a high level, all the time. He’s been performing like the all star that he is, on both ends of the court.  As for Boston, they need vintage Kevin Garnett and his 20-point contributions. For Iguodala and Garnett, their tasks are easier said than done, especially with physical east-coast basketball.

Mar, 16, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) eye the ball during the game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

How the West is Won

OKC and San Antonio have lived up to expectations thus far. A couple things I don’t like about the Spurs: Tim Duncan has to score for them to win. I think he will struggle against Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. The second thing, you can’t quite pinpoint what separates them and why they win. Yes, they’re fundamental, balanced, and deep, but I have yet to find their “it.” The Thunder have a recipe for success, but I’m not a fan of their style in a 7-game series. All season and postseason long, I’ve been saying that they’re too 1 on 1. That’s all they do, it’s who they are, and now the playoffs are far enough for them to be exposed.

You can look at Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, or Manu Ginobli and James Harden. We’ll soon find out if Kevin Durant will take advantage like the scoring champion should. With that said, I expect some lower scores and it should be an instant-classic, 7-game series.

Feb 26, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Eastern Conference forward LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat and Western Conference guard Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers (24) share a laugh late in the game as the West defeated the East 152-149 at the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

All-NBA First Team

Chris Paul (Clippers), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Kevin Durant (Thunder), LeBron James (Heat), Dwight Howard (Magic)

Feb. 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) defends against Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) in the second half of the game at the Staples Center. Timberwolves won 109-97. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

All-NBA Second Team

Tony Parker (Spurs), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Kevin Love (Timberwolves), Blake Griffin (Clippers), Andrew Bynum (Lakers)

May 7, 2011; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) and Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) both react in the first half in game three of the second round of the 2011 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

All-NBA Third Team

Rajon Rondo (Celtics), Dwyane Wade (Heat), Carmelo Anthony (Knicks), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Tyson Chandler (Knicks)

* All-NBA teams have a total of 9 Western Conference players and 6 from the Eastern Conference. All 5 players on the second team represent the West, while 4 players on the third team reside in the East.

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Tags: All-nba Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Finals First Team Indiana Pacers May 2012 Miami Heat National Basketball Association NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Philadelphia 76ers Playoffs Postseason Prediction Preview Recap Review San Antonio Spurs Second Team Third Team Western Conference

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