Q: Who will advance from the Eastern Conference and why?
Yarbro: Heat in 6. The hype that has been building up this series shows us that Indiana is not going to go down without a fight. Lance Stephenson’s comments on what he will do to Dwyane Wade’s knees are an example of the Pacers' desire to beat the Heat, giving a struggling Indiana team at least two wins in the series.
Ferris: Pacers in 7. The Pacers have been waiting for an entire year for this rematch, and I expect it to show throughout the series. Sure, the Heat have dominated their opponents but the Pacers are ready. I think the X-factor for this series is Evan Turner. Will he and the Pacers’ bench be able to outplay the Heat? If so, the upset can be pulled and “the decision part 2” will follow for LeBron James.
Hoppe: I’ll take the Heat in 5. Let’s face it, the Heat have dominated the playoffs the past three years and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Indiana’s inconsistent play will certainly be something they will need to look at. In order to crack the two time defending champs, you must come with your A game every night.
Calcagno: I agree with Hoppe here. The Heat’s dominance in the playoffs these past three seasons leads me to believe that they can come through again against a shaky Indiana. While the Pacers will likely give the Heat a few good games, I would be shocked if Indiana can beat the defending champions in a seven-game set. Heat In 5.
Q: Who will advance from the Western Conference and why?
Yarbro: Spurs in 6. The very recent news of Serge Ibaka being gone for the remainder of the post season makes my decision very easy. Serge Ibaka, one of the best big man defenders in the league, would be the candidate to guard Tim Duncan. Now with Ibaka out, Duncan will have a field day in the post throughout this series, easily allowing San Antonio to advance to the NBA Finals to set up a possible rematch with the Heat.
Ferris: This series is what the NBA playoffs are all about. The MVP Kevin Durant meets the league's best team in what could be the best series of the playoffs. However, with the news that Serge Ibaka is injured, I believe the Thunders’ chances to win the series are slim. Spurs in 6.
Hoppe: This should be a very entertaining series. What’s going to be key in this series is the health of San Antonio. Hopefully for the Spurs, Tony Parker isn’t hurt too badly and is able to play a significant role in the series. If he’s not in the lineup on a game-by-game basis, that could be a big game changer even with Ibaka’s injury. All in all, I expect the favored Spurs to beat the Thunder in 6.
Calcagno: Spurs in 5. With a healthy Ibaka, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick the Thunder here in this series against San Antonio. However, with OKC’s best low-post defender out, I expect the Spurs to roll over the Thunder and set-up a rematch of last year’s Finals.
We would also like to thank Ben Ferris and Hunter Yarbro for being guest writers for this post!
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe