1. How many games does this series go, and why?
Kristopher: I picked the Heat to win this series in six games, and I’m going to stick with that. They finally played their brand of basketball in Game 3, and hopefully we witnessed the reawakening of their role players. The Pacers are a tough team and won’t go away quietly, but if the Heat are clicking like they were in Game 3, it won’t matter how tough the Pacers are.
Ehsan: I said five before the series started, stuck with five after the Heat dropped Game 2, and am going to stick with five right now. No matter how hard Indiana plays, the Heat are a better team. The Heat showed they could beat the Pacers at their own physical, ground and pound game in Game 3 — they also showed that the Pacers cannot keep up with them if they play their game.
2. Which Heat player has impressed you this series?
Kristopher: Is there any other answer besides LeBron? He’s the model of consistency for the Heat. Just when you think you’ve seen it all from him, he comes and does something else to make you say “Wow”. He had spent Games 1 and 2 attacking from the perimeter, but he lived in the post in Game 3. More than his amazing skills or his physical ability, his basketball IQ is what has impressed me the most so far. Knowing what the team needs and when they need it is one of those intangibles you can’t measure – but is invaluable to a team.
Ehsan: Lebron James is the obvious choice here, but I’m gonna go with Chris “Birdman” Anderson. If it was not already evident what kind of impact he has had since his joining the Heat, this series has made it all that more obvious. Anderson is like Joel Anthony – except Andersen can actually catch the ball – and is a missing piece that Eric Spolestra and Pat Riley have been searching for since the Big 3 came together.
3. Which Heat player has failed to impress you this series?
Kristopher: Ray Allen was bought to Miami to be the ultimate floor spacer for the Heat, and up until this series, he’s been just that. Maybe it’s his 37 year old legs beginning to tire, but his shooting (5-19 overall, 3-10 from 3) has been ugly so far. In addition to that, he’s missed his share of free throws this series, including what could have been the game-clincher in Game 1. His production is needed in this series, and right now he’s not bringing it.
Ehsan: Norris Cole. After what looked to be a coming out party for Cole in the first two games of the Bulls series, Norris has regressed to his out-of-control play that led him to be one of the worst bench players (that got consistent playing time) during the regular season. I could also have said Wade or Bosh here, but they are both too obvious of an answer.
4. Who wins tonight’s game, and why?
Kristopher: I have the Heat winning Game 4, simply because this is their opportunity to really take control of this series and show that they have the heart of a champion. Last season, it was the Game 4 in Indiana that flipped the switch for the Heat. I have no reason to believe this situation can be any different. Heat win 97-89.
Ehsan: The Miami Heat will take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series tonight. They proved two things in Game 3
A. That LeBron in the post is pretty much unguardable.
B. When the Heat’s role players stepped up, Indiana could not keep up with them. The Heat blew the Pacers out in Indiana, despite being out-rebounded by 9, the Pacers shooting 40 free throws, and having fewer fastbreak points.
5. Give me one bold prediction for tonight’s game.
Kristopher: This is the game we finally get a Dwyane Wade 30 point performance. He found some offensive rhythm in Game 3, and he’s long overdue for another breakout.
Ehsan: Dwyane Wade will drop 30-8-5 in Game 4, with his college coach, Tom Crean, in attendance. If you have been a Heat fan since before the Big 3 coming together, outside of a championship, there is nothing you want to see more than Wade breaking out of his slump. So not only is this my bold prediction, this is what I will be hoping for tonight, along with a Heat victory.