Sunday, May 13, 2012

2012 NBA PLAYOFFS: EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS



Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers
SEASON SERIES: Heat won 3-1.
ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat had little to no problem in dispatching the New York Knicks in five games in the first round. 2011-12 NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James continued his strong season by averaging 27.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists against the Knicks, while also collecting 11 steals. Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade had 14 steals and six blocks, while adding 21.0 points per game this postseason.

The Indiana Pacers took the next step in growing after defeating the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic in five games. Roy Hibbert was able to take advantage of the Magic’s hole at center by averaging 11.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the series. Most importantly, it was Hibbert’s nine-block performance in Game 1 that set the tone to him having 19 blocks against Orlando. Danny Granger provided the offense that Indiana needed in the series by averaging 21.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
PREDICTION: Heat in 5.



Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
SEASON SERIES: 76ers won 2-1.
ANALYSIS: The Boston Celtics once again made it past the first round for the fifth year in a row after defeating the Atlanta Hawks in six games behind the efforts of their four key players—Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Garnett turned back the clock to his Minnesota Timberwolves days by averaging 18.7 points and 10.5 assists per game against the Hawks—including an impressive stat line of 28 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in Game 6. Rondo may have snapped a 28-game streak of double-digit assists in Game 6, but his 11.8 assists per game this postseason was tops in the first round. However, the most impressive thing was his 17 steals in the series—also the most in the first round.


The Philadelphia 76ers became the fifth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 after their six-game series win against the Chicago Bulls—their first since 2003. The Sixers gave up 103 and 92 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively, but went back to their early-season defensive roots and allowed 77.8 points per game in the final four games. Jrue Holiday averaged 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds to give Philadelphia just enough of a scoring punch against the Bulls and Elton Brand provided the defense with 15 blocks.
PREDICTION: Celtics in 6.

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