After home court didn’t seem to mean anything in the beginning of the conference semifinals, the NBA Playoffs continue with one series that seems to be quite one sided on paper between the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs, while the Miami Heat will try to prove that the regular season doesn’t mean anything as they host the Brooklyn Nets for game 1.
One thing that was surprising about the Nets winning game 7 was the type of contest it developed into. The Nets shouldn’t be able to keep up in a game with plenty of possessions and a high-paced scoring contest. However, they came out on top in that one. It still doesn’t mean the Miami Heat, rested and maybe a bit rusty, should stay away from that plan. Trying to make it a fast game without half court possessions early on might be their biggest advantage going into the series.
The Nets beat the Heat four times in the regular season by doing a good job of keeping James away from the basket with a combination of Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston. Dwyane Wade missed two of those games, and he seems healthy enough in the playoffs, which we almost forgot the Heat were still in because they’ve had such a long time to rest, which isn’t always the best thing, as we saw from them last season. This time, losing the opening game won’t be so easy to erase.
In San Antonio, the Spurs, a team that lives on rests and avoiding fatigue comes in slightly tired to their matchup that should be quite the high scoring affair against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers have probably picked up a thing or two from the Mavs: Putting a big, long-armed player on Parker (Batum?) and taking away the Spurs’ three point shot makes things difficult for them. Still, you can’t hold them back forever, and you need offense to counter that.
Few teams score as well as the Blazers do, but the problem for the Blazers is not having the surprise factor. Everyone knows where the points are coming from: Mostly Aldridge and Lillard, and some from Matthews and Batum. The Spurs are wired differently, although Ginobili and Parker usually set the tone. If this becomes a 3-point shooting contest, the Blazers might actually have more than a small shot at making this a long series, as their defense isn’t something we’ve grown to trust this season.