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Heat – Pacers: Game 7 Preview

Paul George on LeBron James, one of the biggest matchups in tonight's Game 7

Paul George on LeBron James, one of the biggest matchups in tonight’s Game 7

Everyone is excited for tonight’s Heat/Pacers Game 7, so I got in touch with a few of my sports-savvy friends who I knew would want to chime in on how they think tonight will go. Here is what we came up with…
Keys to a Heat Victory

Bill Annechino: For the Heat, it is going to come down to rebounding and 3 pt shooting. Allen and Battier have been murdering them with their terrible shooting.
Nick Wershing: Contain Roy Hibbert. In all 3 of the Pacers wins, Hibbert has a double-double. In the 3 losses, he only has one double-double. Hibbert is a dominating force against any big man the Heat have to offer. The return of Chris Anderson will help, but the Heat need to keep constant pressure on the Indiana big man.

Evan Sally: Rebounding. More specifically, keeping Indiana off of the offensive boards. Whoever has won the points in the paint battle has won each game in the series. Cleaning up Indiana’s misses will be the key to winning that battle.

Jim Bearor: A lot of people are looking at Bosh and Wade, and how Miami can get those two involved in ways that they can contribute and “be aggressive”. I disagree. If DWade is not healthy enough to make an impact, why bother feeding him? It is also apparent that the Chris Bosh we’ve seen in this series isn’t the player that he was in the regular season. Since he’s not the physical guy who can match up against Hibbert and West down low, his role has been diminished, and trying to make him a perimeter player isn’t the kind of tweaking that should be going on at this point in the season. Rather than trying to change their style of play, the Heat need to execute the simple things that they’ve had difficulty with in this series – like those easy layups. The return of the Birdman will most likely help on the rebounding front as well.

Keys to a Pacers Victory
BA: Rebounding and defense. Their defense has to be spot on with its rotations and timing when it comes to doubling LeBron. West and Hibbert also need to stay out of foul trouble and on the court or it could get ugly.
NW: Limit Wade and Bosh. Let’s be honest; as he has shown all series, LeBron will be LeBron. The Pacers may slow him down, but he will show up in the end with his normal 25-8-6 night. The Pacers need to make sure Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh do not put up a big night as well. If at least two of the big three are hot, it will be an extremely tough victory for the Pacers.

ES: Pace. When the game gets frantic is when Miami is at their best. Pacers must slow the game down by being deliberate with each possession, but without allowing their offense to stagnate either.
JB: The Pacers just have to keep doing what they’re doing. Hibbert and the rest of the Indiana frontcourt look like the Monstars at times when compared to the “big men” of Miami. They have to continue to push the ball to these guys – mostly Paul George – and try not to turn it over like they have been in the games they’ve lost so far in this series.

Outside of LBJ, who is the player to watch?

BA: Dwyane Wade. He is by far the biggest question mark of the series. His probable injury has turned the heat from great to good.

NW: Paul George. The Fresno State product has been making a name for himself this year. Besides being named to the All-Star game and winning Most Improved Player, Paul George also received votes for Defensive Player of the Year. People are saying he could be a perennial All-Star, and what better stage to start than versus the best player in the league.

ES: Mike Miller. Miller has barely played in this series and I believe that’s what could make him the difference. He has fresher legs and could provide hustle plays and rebounding that the Heat are desperately lacking. Miller was already a Heat Hero once before, making 7 3s in the deciding game of last year’s Finals. I think he can do it again.

JB: BIRDMAN BIRDMAN!!! He has been shooting very well throughout this series, and his presence is needed down low if the Heat hope to corral any rebounds at all – especially now that Chris Bosh is essentially playing as a 3.

Which of these teams has the better chance to beat San Antonio?

BA: Pacers have a better chance of beating the Spurs because they’ve got the size, defense and are flat out healthier which is huge at this stage of the game.

NW: The Heat have been there and done that. They were the best team during the regular season and they are the defending champs. Adding Ray Allen and Chris Anderson, along with the growth of Norris Cole has added depth to this already championship roster.

ES: San Antonio can neutralize the one thing that makes Indiana special: their size. Also, Miami would be able to score with San Antonio, something I’m not sure Indiana would be able to do.

JB: As it stands right now, coming off of a loss, the Heat don’t look anything like the team that won twenty-something in a row and the Pacers look bigger and better as a whole by comparison. Because of the health issues and the inconsistencies that are starting to pop up around Mr. James, I have to lean towards the Pacers on this one.

Pick a winner for tonight

BA: I gotta be honest, I’m picking the Pacers tonight. They’re playing the better basketball and they’re healthier.

NW: Miami Heat.

ES: Miami by 10. A close game early with Miami pulling away in the 2nd half.

JB: I’m going with the Heat because despite whatever is going on around him, LeBron gives his team a chance to win. Yes it seems like everything is crumbling around him, but I think there are things that can go right that are being wrongfully written off. Wade hasn’t been himself, but who knows, maybe he’ll show up tonight. The same goes with Shane Battier, and maybe Ray Allen even hits a few of the shots that he’s been missing recently. I think that even if Miami can’t put it all together, they should be able to put enough of it together to grind this one out.


Indoor Lacrosse for Dummies

by Nick Wershing

Over the weekend, my buddy asked me if I wanted to take the girlfriends out for a lacrosse game. I thought it could be fun so I agreed. We went to the NLL championship game featuring my hometown Rochester Knighthawks versus the Edmonton Rush. Now I am going to be honest; I do not know that much about lacrosse. I have been to a few games, but have not spent any time playing it myself. But I am an avid sports fan, so I understand the basics.

Much to our dismay, the game started out very poorly for the K-hawks, who went into the half down 5-1. It was disappointing seeing the hometown team down by so much. I was thinking to myself, “Well, this is the last LAX game I will go to.” But the second half saw the K-hawks completely swing momentum. In the third quarter, Rochester scored six goals on only 12 shots. The unexpected turn of events had the Rush players looking at each other after each goal wondering what was happening. The excitement of the arena was amazing. I am a diehard fan when it comes to MY teams, but the Knighthawks can hardly be considered my team. I am happy if they win, but could care less otherwise. So when I go to games, I sit and watch, clap when everyone else does, but mostly sit in my chair and enjoy the play. But on Saturday night, I found myself rising to my feet cheering with each goal. I was rooting for players who I had never heard of before that night. I was yelling, “Give it to 88!” which was my way of cheering for Cody Jamieson, who finished with four goals and four assists.

The Knighthawks capped the night winning 9-6, thanks to the second half in which they outscored the Rush 8-1. It was the 3rd title for the Knighthawks, and their first since 2007. The fans jubilation was amazing. I did not know that The Knighthawks had such a following. My girlfriend pointed out a man in the front row who was actually crying. For anyone who has never attended an Indoor Lacrosse game, I say this as a converted fan. Go. It is one of the most exciting games to watch, even for people like me who have no lacrosse background.

Follow Nick Wershing on Twitter: @n_shing