Heat faces the Bucks, while the Hawks take on the Pacers
The NBA regular season has concluded and now just 16 teams remain to take part in the playoffs. The Southeast division this season has two representatives in the playoffs – the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks.
Miami had the best record in the NBA this season at 66-16, winning 27 straight games at one point and is the defending NBA champions. The Heat will come into this series very rested as their Big Three – LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have all rested the last two weeks of the regular season. This season the Heat ended with a winning percentage of .805 compared to last year’s .697 when they won the NBA title.
James should win the NBA MVP award for the second straight season and the fourth over the past five seasons. The Heat has a very deep bench and that was evident down the stretch when the stars of the team sat and the reserves still carried on winning.
The Heat will face the Milwaukee Bucks, the only team to reach the postseason with a record below .500. The Heat won the season series against Milwaukee 3-1. Miami won both games at home and one on the road in the head to head series with the Bucks.
Miami has a potent offense and own of the better defenses in the league. Key matchups in this series for Miami will be their center Bosh against Larry Sanders and Mario Chalmers the Heat’s point guard against the talented Brandon Jennings.
James leads the Heat in scoring averaging 26.8 per game, while Monta Ellis leads the Bucks with 19.2 points per game. Miami’s top two players James and Wade are much more talented than their two counterparts on the Bucks. The Bucks have also struggled during the entire month of April.
The other Southeast division team to a make the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks, enter as the sixth seed and will face the No. 3 seed the Indiana Pacers. Atlanta is led by the talented Josh Smith, while center Al Horford is averaging double figures in both scoring and rebounding. This season the two teams split their head to head series 2-2.
Key matchups in this series will be Roy Hibbert the Pacers huge center vs Atlanta’s Horford and Atlanta’s Smith versus his Pacers’ counterpart David West. Atlanta will be facing the league’s toughest lock down defense. Nearly every defender on the Pacers plays excellent man to man defense. However, the Hawks are great shooters and to answer the tough defense of the Pacers, the Hawks will have to hit the open shots.
The Heat should easily take their first round matchup in four games versus the Bucks, while the Hawks will have a tough time and the Pacers should win that series in six games 4-2.