Heating up the playoffs

Parker Fox, Sports Editor

Since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh joined forces in Miami, the Heat have been the most scrutinized team in NBA history.  A small amount of “fans” joined the bandwagon as soon as LeBron infamously stated, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”  But a vast majority of sports fans have instead turned to an all-out anti-Heat barrage.  After easily taking care of the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, the Heat were tested against the Pacers when Bosh went down injured in Game 1.  But with legendary performances from stars James and Wade, in addition to contributions from the supporting cast, the Heat successfully overcame the Pacers in six games.

            Even with Bosh making an early exit in Game 1, the Heat easily took care of what many believe to be an inferior Pacers team.  But when Indiana won Game 2 and Game 3, Heat fans certainly must have been nervous.  To make the situation worse, Guard Dwyane Wade appeared to be playing injured and had an altercation with Coach Eric Spolestra during a timeout.  But in Game 4, James had one of the best performances of his career with forty points, eighteen rebounds, nine assists, and two blocks en route to a Heat victory.  Wade also dropped thirty points.  But the Heat would have stood no chance if not for the outstanding play of Udonis Haslem, who had 14 points coming off the bench.  With the series tied, the Heat took control in Game 5 with a dominant 115-83 victory.  To finally close out Indiana, Wade took control with a sensational 41 points, aided by great performances by Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, and James.

            Entering the series, the Pacers knew they had to take a very confident, tough attitude if they wanted to have a chance against the Heat.  Forward Danny Granger was seen barking in James’ face several times during Game 3, and then had similar words for Wade in Game 4.  The Pacers knew they could not be afraid of the Heat to stand a chance, but this strategy ended up costing them in more ways than one.  In Game 5, the Heat clearly responded to the “physical” play with two personal fouls of their own by Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman, both of whom would later receive suspensions (one game and four games, respectively).  Pacers bench player Tyler Hansborough twice drew blood from Heat players during the series.  Indiana may have awoken a sleeping giant in Miami, which responded with three straight victories without Bosh and featured phenomenal performances from Miami’s finest- Wade and James.

            The Heat will now wait to see who their opponent shall be for the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston or Philadelphia.  Game seven of that series is set for Saturday at 8:00.  On the other side of the league, the formidable Thunder will match up with the consistent Spurs to determine who comes out of the Western Conference.