The East is looking a lot less clear cut than the West in these NBA Playoffs, as the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers today to even their series. On Friday, the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76′ers to even their series at 2-2.
For the Heat, the big two that remain, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James, proved they could carry this team over the Pacers if they are both sharp. And they had started to hear the criticisms of ‘choke’ after a dismal team performance in game 3.
The Pacers tried to get tough on the Heat, with Danny Granger getting a T for the second straight game for getting in Dwayne Wade’s face and Tyler Hansborough tenderizing Udonis Haslem‘s face. but the Heat held together, with Haslem being the onyl other player besides Wade and James to contribute down the stretch.
This series is going to come down to who wins game 5. If the Pacers drop game 5, I’m not sure I see them able to win 2 in a row against the Heat again. And as we have seen before, should the Heat drop game 5, and they must go back to Indiana to face the Pacers at home for an elimination game 6, well the choker questions will be there for all to see.
The Celtics and the 76′ers I have a feeling are going to grind it to seven games, it has just been that kind of series. Veteran Kevin Garnett has looked rejuvenated for several of the games this playoff series, and if he can keep bringing it at that level, the Celtics will win this series.
The 76′ers are capable of doing damage. The offense by committee, with a different player stepping up to lead them in scoring, works for them and makes them hard to prepare for. And despite the fact that their numbers are down, Elton Brand and Andre Iguadala are rugged defenders who have been content to do the dirty work. Brand has never been the same since his injury, but he is still a guy who can handle Garnett now that Garnett is at the end of his career.
Despite that, the Eastern finals, if I had to bet right now, will be a Boston Celtic-Miami Heat rematch.