It's probably not a good idea to anger NBA MVP LeBron James before playing… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)
Writers from around Tribune Co. predict the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment of your own.
Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
Congratulations, Frank Vogel, you've successfully agitated the game's best player before a playoff series against your team two years in a row. If the Indiana Pacers coach's comment about Miami being "just the next team that's in our way" wasn't quite as egregious as the flopping accusation he leveled last year, it certainly had a similar effect. LeBron James is mad, and that's never a good thing.
Sure, Indiana is better than it was a year ago, even with Danny Granger sidelined. The Pacers remain strong defensively (see Roy Hibbert versus Carmelo Anthony at the rim) while getting step-up efforts from the likes of Lance Stephenson. But Miami is also better than it was last season, which makes the Heat the favorite to win any series it plays in as long as Dwyane Wade's knee holds up.
Heat in six games.
Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune
The look in LeBron James' eyes when he thought Pacers Coach Frank Vogel brushed off the Heat as "just another team" was telling. Not that James needed any extra motivation based on recent history between the teams, but something tells me the Heat won't take it easy on the Pacers.
A sweep? No, since the Pacers did win two of three games during the regular season. But James and crew should be able to take one in Indianapolis and handle this in five. The Heat have won at least one road game in 10 consecutive playoff series.
The wild card? Dwyane Wade's bruised right knee.
[Updated at 12:36 p.m.:
Gregory Lee, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
This season, the Pacers won the season series over the Heat, 2-1, winning both at home. The Pacers dominated the boards over the undersized Heat.
The youthful Pacers have a very strong starting lineup, including dominating post play from 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert. The Heat have proved that they can adapt to any team, despite any perceived or real deficiencies.
This series will be won on the bench, and the Heat’s bench is much deeper and more effective than the Pacers backups. Heat in six games.
Mike Bianchi, Chicago Tribune
Is today’s question actually, “Who is going to win this series?”
A better question would be, “Will this series be as dramatic and exciting as watching a bunch of bouncing ping-pong balls at Tuesday’s night’s NBA draft lottery?”
The answer to that question is, “No!”
You know the Heat are bored when LeBron takes an innocuous, hackneyed, cliched quote from Pacers Coach Frank Vogel and tries to turn it into bulletin board material.
After the Pacers dispatched the Knicks, Vogel simply said the Heat are the “next team” in Indiana’s path. And you know what? Miami is, in fact, the next team the Pacers play in the playoffs.
Coming soon: LeBron gets irked when Vogel tells media, “We’re just gonna take ’em one game at a time.”
Unfortunately for Vogel and the Pacers, Miami is the “next team” Indiana plays this season -- and the “last team” Indiana plays this season.