I’ve had a lot of fun over the last year and a half at the expense of Chris Bosh by referring to the Heat’s “Big Three” as the Big Two and a Half. This attempt at humor (which has been used by others I might add) had more to do with the fact that Bosh is being placed in the same class as LeBron James and Dwayne Wade when this trio is referred to as the Big Three.
While this assertion is ridiculous Bosh is still a very good player and the strained abdominal injury he suffered in Game One of the Heat’s Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Pacers on Sunday is a significant blow to Miami’s title chances. Bosh makes the Heat’s underwhelming half court offense effective at times because he is so adept at knocking down 15-18 footers when the offense breaks down. He is also great at using the space James and Wade create on drives to the basket to get into the paint himself when the ball is kicked out to him.
Abdominal strains seem like a minor injury but when you consider how much twisting and turning a player does in a normal NBA game it is imperative that the strain completely heal before a player gets back on the court. Because of this, I don’t expect Bosh back, at the earliest, until late in the Eastern Conference Finals if the Heat gets that far. Without the eight-year veteran, Miami should get past an Indiana team that lacks the go to guy necessary to take them down late in games.
If Boston, however, is waiting in the Eastern Conference Finals watch out South Beach. While old and banged up in key spots, the Celtics will be suffocating in the half court on defense if they only have to defend two players. They also have multiple options on offense late in games and are a tougher bunch than the ring deprived Heat (not counting Wade’s 2006 title). Bosh’s injury has made Miami a whole lot more vulnerable and the playoffs infinitely more unpredictable.
Paul Pierce is as tough as they come but it is obvious through the first two games of the Celtics-Pacers series that he is having a tough time dealing with the sprained MCL in his left knee. He is a combined 5-20 from the field so far in the series and has scored only 21 points including a meager seven points in Game Two last night. He has also been nonexistent in the fourth quarter with only four points, which all came in Game One. I expect Pierce to have a strong game or two against the Pacers despite the injury but the unrelenting schedule which includes games every other day through Game Six will make it almost impossible for the knee to heal. I expect the Celtics to survive this series and face the Heat for a chance to play for a title. With Pierce still hobbled though Boston will be hard pressed to maintain any consistency on offense against a dynamic Heat defense.
The story lines run deep in the Thunder-Lakers series but what may not run deep is the series itself. As last night’s 29-point blow out by the Thunder proves, the Lakers may be gassed after a tougher than expected seven game series in Round One against the young, athletic Nuggets. The upcoming schedule may not help. While the NBA took their time playing Round One they seem to be in a hurry to complete Round Two especially in the Western Conference.
This series and the Clippers-Spurs series include Games Three and Four being played back to back days. While this sets up a cool scenario where four games will be played in 48 hours at the Staples Center (six in 73 and a half hours if you include the Los Angeles Kings) it does nothing to help the Lakers. It is hard to imagine the older Lakers winning two games at home in 24 hours against a younger, fresher Thunder team. This means that there is a great chance that Oklahoma City will hold a 3-1 lead heading back home for Game Five. Expect this series to end right there with OKC advancing in five.
The situation is similar in the Clippers-Spurs series with Los Angeles coming off a grueling seven game battle against Memphis and San Antonio, like OKC, disposing of their first round opponent in four games. This series, however, will play out differently. The Clippers athleticism in the frontcourt should give the Spurs problems. Also, a Chris Paul led team rarely goes down easily in a playoffs. Expect this series to go the distance with San Antonio pulling it out at home in a closely contested seventh game.
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