In a rematch of from last season, Indiana and Miami will battle for the right to go to the NBA finals. Both teams return with largely the same roster as well as styles of play. Last seasons series went to a game 7. The Pacers were a relative unknown going into last seasons playoffs while the Heat were the defending champs. The Pacers won the top seed during the regular season despite a rough second half of the year. The Heat ended up with the 2 seed. Miami has lost one game in the playoffs after sweeping the Bobcats and then beating the Nets 4-1. The Pacers have had a much tougher road after needing 7 grueling games to get by the 8th seed Atlanta Hawks they were able to outplay an up and coming Wizards team in 6 games. No matter what momentum took them there both teams are now in the Eastern Conference finals and starting Sunday they will have a chance to prove they belong in the finals.
Point Guard- Mario Chalmers vs. George Hill
Chalmers played well in the Nets series and needs to play well in order to stay on the floor thanks to the play of Norris Cole as well as the fact that Lebron James or Dwayne Wade can easily move over to the point when necessary. Hill was critical to his teams success in last seasons run while not playing as well during this postseason. A big series for him could be the shot in the arm that the team needs.
Advantage - Indiana
Shooting Guard- Dwayne Wade vs. Lance Stephenson
Stephenson is having the breakout year of his career. He averaged career highs in virtually all categories and is a strong defender. Wade is not "Flash" like he was in his younger days, however he still remains a top 20 player who gets lost in the shuffle playing with James.
Small Forward- Lebron James vs. Paul George
George has been spectacular at many points during these playoffs however he has also shown that he needs to develop some consistency to be considered a superstar. James is the best player in the world and continues to evolve his game into whatever he feels will help his team win
Power Forward- Shane Battier/Udonis Haslem vs David West
It remains to be seen which starter Miami will go with to match up with West. Battier would spread the floor better with his outside shooting while Haslem would be a bigger body to bang with the Pacers big men. West is a quiet productive player who always seems to have a positive impact on the game.
Center- Chris Bosh vs Roy Hibbert
Bosh is the most improved player on the Heat and he has added the 3 point shot to his repertoire. He is just as essential to the Heats success as anyone not named James. Hibbert is almost like the tale of two players. In some games he dominates both ends of the floor like he did last season and in others he can go scoreless and rebound-less.
He needs to play up to standard in order for the Pacers to have a real chance to win the series.
The Pacers upgraded their bench in the offseason with Luis Scola and C.J Watson as well as during the season with Evan Turner. While none has made a big impact thus far in the playoffs all are beyond capable. Miami added players like Greg Oden and Michael Beasley in the offseason however they are not in the rotation. Battier, Chris Anderson, and Cole make up most of the teams bench minutes.
Its a tough series to predict because the Pacers have been so unpredictable while the Heat have been so dominant. Are the Pacers ready to show consistency? Is Miami going to show any signs of weakness. We will start to find out these answers on Sunday afternoon.
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