As we work our way towards Pro Basketball's version of the Final Four, injuries have and continue to play a huge role. Is there any doubt that Chicago would have taken care of business against Philadelphia with a healthy Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah?
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With top seeded Chicago eliminated, Miami effectively becomes the Beast of the East. The Heat will burn everything in their path tto the Eastern Conference finals, right? Lebron and Wade probably won't need the injured Chris Bosh to dispatch of Indiana, but at some point his absence will play a role.
Miami vs Indiana- Make no mistake, Indiana is a well coached, deep, playoff team. If they weren't playing tthe presumptive NBA champion in the second round, they probably would have a good chance of advancing to the next round. The Pacers need a victory tonight in South Beach to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole in the best of seven set. Game one was over before intermission as Indiana managed only a dozen points in the second quarter. With Bosh out of the lineup, the smallish Heat are even more undersized and the Pacers could take advantage with their huge front court. Roy Hibbert and David West will enjoy a distinctive advantage in the paint with Tyler "Pycho" Hansbrough providing relief of the bench. If Miami compensates for the size disadvantage with a sagging zone, Indiana will need Danny Granger to deliver from three point range. Granger struggled in game one, going 1-for-7 from long range. The Heat game plan is simple, Lebron and Wade all night long. If Miami has another easy time of it, the Pacers will lose confidence and can best hope to take one at home to avoid a sweep.
Boston vs Philadelphia- The second youngest team in the Association has already grown up a bit in the second season. Did anyone believe the Sixers had a shot against the top seeded Bulls? I have to admit, there was some doubt in my mind entering the series with Rose's health such a question mark all season long. When Rose went down and out, it still seemed Chicago had enough to carry the day. The loss of Noah was a real wakeup call and Chicago got by on guts from that point on. The Sixers got superb backcourt play, especially from point guard Jrue Holiday, taking advantage of Rose's absence. Outlasting the Bulls was a huge boost of confidence for Philly, witness last night's win at the Garden. Boston is in a dangerous situation as the series shifts to Philadelphia to a hostile crowd against a fresh Sixers bunch now bubbling with confidence. Look for Philly to run all night long and take advantage of a great group of athletes slashing to the hoop. Kevin Garnett has looked like the KG in his prime in the post season and Boston needs him to control Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand on the blocks. If Celts power forward Brandon Bass isn't hitting the 12-15 foot jumpers, the series could be over quicker than most imagine.
Up next, a look at the Western Conference Semi-Finals where the favorites are holding serve. Did the grueling seven game marathon against Denver take too much out of the Lakers aging legs? Are the Spurs on a mission, looking to make good on last season's first round exit?
Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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