Most Important Player: Miami Heat
Jack Maloney (@jmaloney9): LeBron James
I know, I know, that’s the easy pick, but c’mon, who else can it be? I thought about switching it up and going with like Chris Bosh, but no way. It’s LeBron James. It’s always LeBron James. He’s won four of the last six MVP awards and only finished second this year because Kevin Durant lost his mind and turned in one of the best stretches of basketball we’ve ever seen. Really, there isn’t too much else to say about LeBron. He’s The King for a reason. Now watch him work.
Matthew Hochberg (@MatthewHochberg): Dwyane Wade
We know what to expect from LeBron James and have an idea of what we will see from Chris Bosh, but it is the third leg of the Big Three—Dwyane Wade—who is the biggest question marking for the Heat heading into the Eastern Conference Semifinals. While he played just 54 games throughout the regular season, the 32-year-old appeared in all four postseason games thus far, averaging 17.5 points while shooting 49.1 percent from the field. D-Wade continuing his production against the Nets will help take a lot of the pressure off James.
Sonny Giuliano (@SonnyCG): LeBron James
It’s difficult to not be intrigued by the Paul Pierce/LeBron James matchup. They have such a storied history with one another, and another chapter being written before our eyes in must watch basketball. Paul Pierce wasn’t brought to Brooklyn to bow down to The King in Round 2. He was brought there to dethrone him.
Sam Kuperman (@samkoop): Chris Bosh
Whether or not the Nets small-ball style of play will work is largely dependent on how Bosh plays in the series. His numbers against Brooklyn are right around his overall regular season numbers but he will need to up the ante this time around. If Bosh can have a dominant presence inside it will make things extremely difficult for the Nets.
Mike Wesson (@iamWesson): Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh gets the nod for Miami as most important. He will be matched up against an aging Kevin Garnett and should have a field day. Bosh will have to provide energy on both ends to make sure the Heat can at least be respectable from the inside. Also, he’ll need to draw out the interior defense for driving lanes for LeBron and Wade to get their baskets.
Most Important Player: Brooklyn Nets
JM: Seven Time All-Star Joe Johnson
STAS Joe Johnson is going to have to show up in a big way if the Nets want a shot at pulling off the upset. Trust me, I’m aware of the fact that the Nets went 4-0 against the Heat in the regular season, but I also don’t care. The Nets beating the Heat in a playoff series would be a huge upset. STAS Joe Johnson averaged 20 a night on fifty percent shooting in those four games, both of which were much better than his regular season averages. He’ll need to play at least that well for Brooklyn to have a shot.
MH: Deron Williams
Brooklyn’s point guard is battling ankle issues but will need to fight through the pain to give the Nets any chance against the NBA’s Goliath. He averaged 23 points on 46 percent shooting in victories against the Raptors but just 12 points in losses, while shooting a mediocre 35.3 percent.
SG: Paul Pierce
SK: Deron Williams
Talk all you want about the Nets being 4-0 against the Heat this year. Talk all you want about Brooklyn’s veteran presence and how well it plays together. The Nets will not win this series unless D-Will decides to show up. He has rumored to be “missing,” outside of Barclays Center during the Nets first round series against the Raptors.
While he has averaged a mere 7.3 points per game against Miami in the three games he played against the Heat this year he will not be able to get away with such lackluster play in the postseason. Miami has been here before and will be much tougher to beat than the team that Brooklyn continuously took down throughout the regular season. If D-Will can play like the guy he was supposed to be when he signed that max contract two summers ago, then maybe Brooklyn can pull off the upset.
MW: Deron Williams
He and Roy Hibbert have had the most disappearing acts in this year’s playoffs. He is the point guard and gets paid like the leader of the team, but has yet to showcase anything of the sort. I believe in order for them to have a chance to beat Miami, he will have to show up and show up big.
Don’t Overlook ____________________:
JM: Shaun Livingston
Shaun Livingston is awesome, and he’s been pretty solid for the Nets this year. At some point in this series he will make a play that gets you up out of your seat. I guarantee it. So don’t overlook him, cause you’ll want to see that play.
MH: LeBron taking on Paul Pierce and KG once again
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce meet LeBron James in the playoffs for the fifth time in their careers. This may very well be the final go-around for the longtime rivals, and it will surely be a memorable series.
SG: The low post battle
Toronto’s frontcourt was able to have quite a bit of success against Brooklyn in Round 1. I’m interested in seeing if the story will be the same in Round 2. I expect Chris Bosh to put up big numbers and have one of his best series as a member of the Miami Heat.
SK: The fact that neither team was healthy during their regular season meetings
Both the Nets and the Heat have had key players miss several games in the regular season series between these squads. For Miami, Dwayne Wade only played in two of the contests this season. When he played he was extremely effective, averaging 21.5 points.
For Brooklyn Kevin Garnett also only appeared in two of the games. His averages of 9 points and 8.5 boards against Miami don’t look that great on paper, but keep in mind that they are significantly higher than his overall regular season numbers of 6.5 ppg and 6.6 rpg.
MW: Greg Oden
I need Greg to show his face and get a couple of dunks. He will need a little action before they need him for the home stretch of their playoff run.
JM: Miami in 5
MH: Miami in 6
SG: Miami in 5
SK: Miami in 7
MW: Miami in 5