It was predicted months before, and many people had this happening before the season ever began. As the Miami Heat are cruising through with a commanding 3-1 lead in their Eastern semis series vs the severely roster damaged Chicago Bulls. As inspirational an effort they have shown reality has started to sink in. Without the likes of Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and most importantly Derrick Rose this series as fun as it was in the beginning is going to in all likely-hood end on Wednesday May 15th, a crucial Game 5 in Miami. To be fair you throw in the healthy versions of the Bulls players I mentioned, this series isn't as clear cut as it is now.
With that said neighboring in another series the two most dangerous teams to the Heat playoff path in Indiana, and New York are in their own intense series. Not as clear cut as the Miami/Chicago series, but it is the most important. Both teams have given the defending champs the most grief this season, and in fact both teams have done something most teams haven't done. Beat the Heat consistently with the same formula. The Pacers used their rough, ad rugged style of play to beat the Heat down (literally) causing pressure in the only glaring weak spot of Miami being their front court.
The Knicks have done much of the same, but due to their inability to match the pressure Indiana would have in the paint they this season have inflicted major damage on the perimeter. Carmelo Anthony, and the rest of his scorers have just drowned the Heat in a barrage of three's, and on defense shut down anyone not named Lebron James. However seeing as how I don't see the Knicks falling down to a 3-1 position in that series (see it going to 6 or 7) no matter who moves on after that, will either team have enough in the tank to defeat Lebron James & Co.
We've seen some physical play in this Knicks vs Pacers series. And combine that with injuries, illnesses, and fatigue that will surely set in as the series progresses. Will the team that moves on be able to keep up with the full court assault of the Heat, their complete roster (keys: Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Chris Andersen) and the dynamic trio in MVP Lebron James & all-stars Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh. Can it be done? Yes, anything is possible as we've seen the Heat underachieve before (2011 NBA Finals). Will it happen? All signs point to no, as the Heat who have been impressive have also played fewer post season games thus far compared to Indiana or New York.
Looking at Miami, they also gained a positive experience so far facing off with the Chicago Bulls. A Bulls team that has been extremely physical with them, and has not backed down from the Miami Heat pressure that comes along with playing them. Chicago's perimeter players such as Nate Robinson (who has been sensational), and the talented young guard Jimmy Butler have given all they can.
The Heat have also faced a front court such as Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer which has prepared the Heat for more physical play down the road which they would surely see from Indiana, and even New York. Two teams with front courts that have historically played the Heat well.
It will be interesting to see how these playoff moments unfold. Miami leaves Chicago tonight with one foot in the door of the Eastern Conference Finals, and await their chance to clinch that berth on Wednesday night on TNT. On the other hand another important battle ensues, the most important one. As the teams in my opinion with the best chance to keep Lebron James, and Miami away from a repeat situation are in a war with each other.
The Miami Heat will look to clinch their series vs the Chicago Bulls Wednesday, May 15th at 7:00pm. Broadcasted on the TNT Network.