Each day that there’s a playoff game, we’ll have three things to watch in the NBA playoffs. Each note will be accompanied by a contest. We’ll announce winners after each round. Here’s today’s three things to watch:
1) Miami starting off well. Miami losing even one game in the playoffs so far shocked me, and it was clearly an anomaly: they’ve won their four home playoff games with an average of 19 points per game. I won’t talk at length about Miami’s brilliant positionless offensive and defensive principles, but any team facing them in the playoffs has a major uphill battle towards victory. I won’t pick Indiana to win a game this series until they actually do — and until then, I expect Miami to cruise at the highest level.
2) Fights! That’s not to say the game will be easy, or fun, or without struggle. David West is arguably the strongest player in the league and boxes — no, he actually does boxing — in the offseason. Udonis Haslem and Tyler Hansbrough had issues in last year’s playoffs. Hansbrough and Wade, too. Miami currently sits atop the NBA’s throne, and that means teams are gunning for them. Chicago did. Indiana will, too.
3) Balance. While the safe money is almost always on LeBron James or Dwyane Wade leading a game in scoring, there’s a chance that doesn’t happen tonight. Putting aside that the Pacers have gotten unlikely high-scoring contributions from their entire roster, if the Heat use James and Wade as creator-passers and spreading the ball around, finding Chris Bosh open near the basket and in the corner and their other three-point shooters. Wade is also fighting a knee injury which has hampered his effectiveness. James is a multipositional cyborg — which iteration of him will we see tonight?