Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The Miami Heat are now prohibitive favorites to with the Eastern Conference Championship for the fourth straight year. They were in good shape entering the postseason as a healthy #2 seed that was already very experienced at taking care of business in April, May, and June. But, NOW:
*Top-seeded Indiana is virtually confirmed to be a non-threat given their seven game sweat against a poor Atlanta squad. Atlanta had a losing record this season, but was just minutes away from taking out the Pacers in Game Six. Indiana may have improved a bit since the last quarter of the season when they were one of the worst teams in the NBA. But, they haven’t shown yet that they’d be capable of truly threatening Miami in a best-of-seven if the two are destined to meet.
*Brooklyn was seen as a potential threat because the Nets swept regular season meetings from Miami. But, that was a case of the Heat pacing themselves. Now, Miami is at full strength and full throttle. Brooklyn just barely got by Toronto in the first round…and Toronto isn’t a threat to Miami. Why would Brooklyn be?
*Washington is the other team in the East. They could well take out Indiana based on the recent form of the two teams. Team inexperience would loom very large in a projected Eastern finals with Miami. Maybe Washington could make it interesting for awhile. Maybe the youth and energy of the Wizards could be a thorn in Miami’s side the way similar facets were for Indiana and Chicago in past playoff encounters with the Heat. Can you picture Washington playing for the league championship against the West winner in June? Very tough.
Maybe it’s already over. Or, maybe Brooklyn has a surprise in store. Let’s run through the analytics data we’ve been featuring throughout the postseason.
Brooklyn: 104.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #14 in the NBA)
Miami: 109.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)
Miami ranked #2 in the league during the regular season even though they were coasting or shorthanded much of the time. They have threats both inside and outside…along with the greatest scoring force in our generation with LeBron James. Brooklyn was league average offensively despite facing a below league average schedule.
Brooklyn: 104.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #19 in the NBA)
Miami: 102.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #11 in the NBA)
This is where you have to wonder about Miami. They often coasted too much on defense, which let inferior teams beat them. That being said, Miami coasting still ranked better defensively than Brooklyn! You saw the Nets have trouble with the Raptors a few times in the last round. Miami’s much more potent than the Raptors.
These were very slow teams during the regular season. Brooklyn has to play slow because they’re so old. Miami can go fast if they need to, and is more likely to do that for stretches in the playoffs. But…it’s not like Miami is afraid of a slowdown game. They score great out of the halfcourt. And, obviously “playoff basketball” represents a comfort zone given their two league championships with a near-miss the past three years. Brooklyn has to hope it stays slow and Miami misses a lot of shots.
Against the Spread
Brooklyn: 42-40 (4-2-1 in first round vs. Toronto)
Miami: 37-43-2 (3-1 in first round vs. Charlotte)
Neither team won money for backers during the regular season after you adjust for vigorish. Both were able to do so in the first round of the playoffs though.
Las Vegas Line:
Miami by 7.5, total of 191.5
There are two ways to look at that line. Either it’s a low number for a rested powerhouse hosting a generic mediocrity. Or, it’s a high number for a game that could have an extremely slow tempo. You really have to work to win mudwrestling by that much. Brooklyn will try to bog things down. Miami will try to play clean so they can keep coasting through the brackets.
JIM HURLEY has been in constant touch with his New York-based sources to get a read on the Nets mindset heading into this first game. If the team is too tired to play hard after flying down from Canada, this could be a blowout call on the hosts…with underdog specials on the Nets set for later in the series. But, if Brooklyn is ready to play, the value may be with the points right off the bat. INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING in this particular matchup.
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We’ll return tomorrow at this time to preview Game Two of Washington/Indiana. We’ll look back at Game One and discuss what might be ahead in that series. We’ll do the same thing Thursday for Game Two of Portland/San Antonio. That will finish off a four-day look at the four second round matchups. From that point forward, we’ll go in depth on the most compelling game of the day. Let’s home the second round is as excitingly compelling as the first round was! Hey, WINNING is always A-THRILL-A-MINUTE with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!