NBA fans are in for a treat tonight with a Game 7 between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. With all of the excitement leading in to tonight’s do or die game, we reached out to FanSided’s resident Heat and Pacers experts. Jae Bradley of AllUCanHeat.com and Stephen Ajamie of AlwaysMillerTime.com happily answered our questions and here is what they had to say.
From Jae Bradley of All U Can Heat:
If, at the start of the series, you had said that this series was going to seven games I would have called you insane.
“Are you kidding me? We’re talking about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. We’re talking about the defending NBA champions. We’re talking about a team that once won 27 straight games. We’re talking about the world’s greatest receding hairline and the human velociraptor. And the Pacers are good, and Paul George is Da Man, but this thing is going five — six, max.”
And. Now. It. Is. Game 7.
What to expect: Well clearly, I don’t know how to predict anything in the NBA any more so… Honestly — and I mean this completely and with 100% objectivity — the Miami Heat are going to win tonight. I think they’re too good to lose this series. Even with these crippled versions of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that look like Chevy Impalas running on lighter fluid, the Miami Heat have LeBron James. And Mario Chalmers. And Ray Allen. And Udonis Haslem. And Chris Andersen (who’s back for tonight’s game). And Norris Cole. And….(you get the idea). The Indiana Pacers have nobodies on their bench. They have Ian Mahinmi. They have Sam Young. They have DJ Augustin. And, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Indiana’s starting 5 is better than Miami’s starting 5, but Miami’s bench is way better than Indiana’s bench. And that’s what I think will lead Miami to victory tonight.
Match up to watch: Why, hello there, Joel Anthony. Didn’t even know you played anymore. Joel Anthony had three blocks and grabbed eight rebounds. He played better than expected post defense on Hibbert, and should be a viable defensive option in Game 7. The only thing is that he is the quintessential offensive liability — he has the post-moves of a rock.
Key Players: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Please show up tonight? Just once? And maybe also in Game 7 of the NBA Finals? (Or here’s an idea, show up every game! It’s not like you’re getting paid millions and millions of dollars!) Seriously, LeBron needs some help. I’m not asking for 81 point games from both of you (though that would be awesome). All I’m asking for is that the two of you combined score more than 15 points during GAME SIX OF THE FREAKIN’ EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS. That’s it. Gimme 30, gimme 20, hell, gimme 17 (don’t actually)! Just don’t give me 15.
Prediction: Heat: 92, Pacers: 88.
From Stephen Ajamie of Always Miller Time:
The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat face in this game to determine who heads to the NBA Finals. Even as a Pacers fan, if you said the Pacers would be one game away from the NBA Finals, I would have responded right back with What happened to the Heat? But here they are facing said Heat and with a great opportunity to knock them off. What will it take to take down the mighty Heat? The Pacers Blue Collar Gold Swagger that they’ve been playing with all series. At times, the Pacers have looked like the better team, and tonight’s the perfect night to prove that.
What to expect: I expect the Heat to come out aggressive and the Pacers will have to weather that early storm. If the Pacers can’t do that, this game could get ugly in a hurry, and the Heat could easily walk away with a double figures win. But if the Pacers come out like they did in game six, this game will be close throughout. So in a way, WHO KNOWS WHAT TO EXPECT? It’s all about what team gets that control early on because I feel like that will determine the rest of the game.
Match Up to Watch: I’m going with whoever is guarding Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. I feel like this could be that evening the Big Three (Lebron, Dwayne, Chris) get their act together. On the Pacers’ side, they have to be leery about that as well, and slow down the rest of the Heat as much as they can.
Key Player: It’s all about Lebron James. If Paul George can somehow slow him down, then the Pacers should be in prime position. On the Pacers’ side, it’s all about Paul George, he’s got to come through offensively and defensively. If he’s not feeling it on offense, then the defense needs to step up even more. If he can get anywhere near that 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists type game, the Pacers are right there.
Prediction: The part I hate the most about previewing a game. I’m going with the heart, and say the Pacers find that way to win. It might even be a 7 points or higher win if they can get their act together like in game six. But the Pacers pull this off, and the rest of the NBA gets to watch Spurs/Pacers NBA Finals. David Stern would be crying himself to sleep after that.
How do you think tonight’s game will shape up? Sound off in the comments section and share your thoughts.