NBA Playoffs Conference Finals Notes: Heat-Celtics, Spurs-Thunder

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Less then two weeks ago, I warned that the Celtics would have an excellent chance of beating the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals due to the Chris Bosh abdominal injury. While Bosh’s return definitely does not look imminent, Boston has their own health issues to worry about. Avery Bradley is most likely gone for the rest of the postseason with a recurring dislocated left shoulder injury. He was the one player on the Celtics roster that could slow down Dwayne Wade on the perimeter. Now Boston will have to look to the likes of Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus to guard Wade. Neither of those guys have half the athleticism or defensive prowess that a healthy Bradley possesses.

Speaking of Allen, a bothersome ankle injury has put the prolific three-point shooter on ice. He made a putrid 7 of 34 threes in the Sixers series and registered double-digit points in only three of the seven games. When you throw in Paul Pierce’s left knee MCL sprain, the only key players entering the Miami series healthy are Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

Despite all the injuries Boston is dealing with, I still think they have a chance to take down the Heat. Too much has been made about how well Wade and LeBron James have played since Game 4 of the Pacers series. It’s only three games and just as quickly as they turned around that series they could easily look like the lost, dysfunctional bunch that headed into Game 4 down 2-1. Boston’s injury situation though is too severe and will get the best of them as the series moves along. Look for the Heat to win in six hard fought games.

Before I move on to the Western Conference Finals, it is worth admiring what Wade and James accomplished over the last week. In Games 4-6 of the Indiana series, the dynamic duo averaged 65.7 points per game combined on 58.2 percent shooting from the field. They also grabbed 56 rebounds and dished out 35 assists in the three games. It is hard to imagine that two teammates have ever put up numbers like this in three consecutive games in NBA playoff history.

All of sudden everybody loves the Spurs. While many people, including yours truly, overlooked them coming into the playoffs, their eight straight wins heading into the West Finals against the Jazz and Clippers have turned heads and made them the undisputed favorite to take home the title. The San Antonio love affair has gone so far that the Thunder are no longer even considered a threat to derail the Spurs express. Yesterday’s impressive 4th quarter comeback definitely helped this love affair grow.

Let’s gain some perspective here. San Antonio beat one of the worst teams in recent playoff history in the Jazz to open the postseason. Utah made it clear that for them their season ended when they clinched the eighth seed in the final days of the regular season. Simply put, they were happy to be in the playoffs and had no intentions of ever challenging San Antonio. While I thought the Clippers would be a more formidable Round 2 opponent, they clearly lacked the playoff experience and offensive firepower to keep up with the Spurs. That brings us to Oklahoma City.

They are certainly not just happy to be in the playoffs after losing in five games to the Mavericks in last year’s Western Conference Finals. This is a team that is hungry to take the next step in their evolution, which means nothing short of an NBA Finals appearance. They also have playoff experience with four series wins over the last two postseasons and offensive firepower with Kevin Durant, Ryan Westbrook and James Harden averaging 67.8 points per game combined in these playoffs. When you throw in that Scott Brooks should narrow the Grand Canyon sized coaching gap between Vinny Del Negro and Gregg Popovich in the last round and I really like Oklahoma City’s chances. Despite the Spurs leading 1-0 in the series, I don’t even think it will take seven games for the Thunder to advance to the Finals. They will dispose of the Spurs in six games.

A Staff Writer for RotoExperts, Tamer Chamma is a two time top 50 Finalist in the WFAN Fantasy Phenom contest as well as a weekly guest on the SiriusXM "RotoExperts" morning show. Tamer is also a fill-in co-host for the show. You may contact Tamer @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RotoExperts_TC