Miami Heat Confidence Meter: 9.5
(Bosh is Hurt? uh. that can’t be good)
• Game 1 started, and the Heat had little to no energy while playing a sparring style with the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers with their obvious size advantage presented problems early, with a Heat team that seemed surprised at times, and amused at others at the Physicality that the Pacers seemed determined to exert. The Pacers foul incessantly, as a style that they have taken as their own. This style has allowed them to neutralize lessor squads, as they use their often efficient front line to get them home from there. The Indiana Pacers do rebound well, and they take defending the 3 point line as a point of emphasis. Other than the Boston Celtics, no other team in the NBA makes a bigger effort to neutralize an opponents’ spot up game. The Pacers’ ranking is middle of the pack as far as 3 pt. percentage against goes, but with their length, and athleticism, they are able to close out on shooters as good as anyone. Where you can notice a discernible difference in style of play is whenever Mike Miller checks in as a second option to Lebron James, late in the 2nd quarter. The Pacers snuffed out countless attempts to get Mike Miller his shot int he first half by switching on cross screens and extending their defense. The easiest way to combat that is to put the ball on the floor and attack the paint. The talk of “turning on a switch” (for the Heat) is true, if you can submit this game as evidence. The Heat turned their game into paint attack mode late in the first quarter and dominated paint scoring from that point on.
• As for the matchups in this series, much of what was predicted, materialized early on. I felt that Chris Bosh would neutralize Roy Hibbert, so that Lebron James / Dwyane Wade would have free reign, and thus have an easy time in this series. As the game played, it really showed how much of an advantage a team with two Superstars has over a “team orientated” squad of which I am sure, Roy Hibbert himself is sick of pushing. NBA playoff basketball in a close game comes down to efficient scoring. Efficient scoring in the 4th quarter is usually obtained by star players. The Pacers are at a severe disadvantage whenever it comes to crunch time, and it shows everytime the Pacers are caught in a “nip and tuck” type of game. In those instances, The Heat’s entire attack is devoted to patience, and a belief that no team can execute successfully against their defense in the fourth quarter, and that is exactly what you saw on Sunday afternoon.
• The Miami Heat have a knack for dialing up pressure and in fact, putting away a team early in the shot clock. Come the fourth quarter, you saw the entire repertoire from Miami. They fronted, they blitzed, they extended, and they were in 4 places at once. That was as good a defense as this team has played in the last two seasons. With all the good feeling from this game, the talk around the team circled around the injury of Chris Bosh and his expected status. Chris Bosh put the ball on the floor past Roy Hibbert mid key, and flushed it early on a trailing Hibbert. Upon the finish, you could tell that Bosh put a little extra on that ball. The official word is that Bosh strained an abdominal muscle and is day to day. If I had to guess, I would say that Bosh is likely done for this series if Coach Erik Spoelstra feels that he is not going to get what he needs from him. It is being reported that he (Bosh) could be out as long as 2 weeks “or more” due to this injury. That is smoke and mirrors. It’s just not true. The severity of the injury has not been determined, so nobody really knows what the injury is. Bosh reported a “little” pain after going into the lockeroom. The MRI results will be key. I expect the Heat to win game 2, and in my opinion crush the Pacers in this series. I don’t see how this team can win 4 straight for a sweep without the services of Bosh, But I certainly don’t see them losing 3 either. It is a good bet that he is out for game 2 for sure, and with his status completely up in the air, the smart money is saying that he might be out for at least 3 games, which would allow for a good 10 day window to recover from a strain. Let’s hope that it’s not serious.
The Heat stay home on Tuesday to face the Pacers in Game 2. Tipoff is at 7:00pm.