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Sunday, 27 May 2012

NBA Conference Finals Play Off Preview

So we have reached the Conference Finals in the NBA and three of the big favourites since the beginning of the post-season are all still involved as the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will begin to feel the Championship.

The latter two of those will meet in the Western Conference Finals, while the Heat will take on the Boston Celtics for the Eastern Conference.

Eastern Conference Final

Miami Heat (2) v Boston Celtics (4)
This is going to be a fascinating series as the older and experienced Boston Celtics have felt good about this potential match up throughout the season.

That is because they do have a clear edge when it comes to the Point Guard position in Rajon Rondo compared with the Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers, but the key will be how attacking Rondo plays. In the last series with the Philadelphia 76ers, we saw games where Rondo was a little passive, but then also saw him turn game 7 in the Celtics favour with a run of points after Paul Pierce had fouled out of the game.

If Rondo can take over games in that manner, the Celtics can cause Miami plenty of problems and that can only be furthered by the news that Chris Bosh is 'indefinitely unavailable' for the Heat.

That does means the onus is on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to continue playing at the high-level they found in the series with the Indiana Pacers. They haven't got a great support around them unless the likes of Mike Miller, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers can chip with some decent three point shooting, although the extra days rest will have helped them a lot more than the Celtics who have had to play a long, tough series with Philadelphia.

Boston can pick up confidence from the fact they beat Miami the last 3 times they played in the regular season, including a win on South Beach and a blow out at home.

Prediction: You know the Celtics will be fully confident they can get through this series, but I think the Miami Heat will be too strong for them and take this series in 6 games.

Western Conference Final

San Antonio Spurs (1) v Oklahoma City Thunder (2)
This is the series that a lot of folks would have been looking forward to and we have had a few days to think about it as both teams managed to get through their Semi Final tilts against the LA Clippers and LA Lakers with little fuss.

The San Antonio Spurs have been the surprise package of the season with very few expecting them to be in this position when the shortened schedule was released, but they have shown tremendous depth in their rotation, while Tony Parker has been playing at a high level and finding his open shooters all over the court.

Parker has already set the fires for this series by telling Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder that he is the best player he would have played against in the Play Offs so far. He is looking to get into the head of Westbrook and perhaps try and force him to win games rather than giving the ball to Kevin Durant.

Durant is the best pure scorer in the NBA as far as I am concerned and he has shown he can handle the pressure by making some clutch baskets against Dallas and the Lakers in the first two series. With James Harden also coming off the bench and scoring his points, the Thunder will feel they can beat any team. However, I just feel their edge with Harden is negated somewhat by the deep rotation the Spurs have and I think the Number 1 seed has the slight edge in the series.

San Antonio won the last two games in the regular season between the teams and I think their shooting talent and experience gives them the edge.

Prediction: Tough, tough series, but I think the San Antonio Spurs are going to find a way to win it in 6 games.

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