The Heat and Grizzlies wrapped up their conference semifinals series and made it to the NBA's Final Four last night with series-clinching wins. They will have some waiting to do, although it may not be too long (or may not be too much of an advantage with the NBA likely waiting to set up the conference final schedule to their liking) with a pair more of elimination games tonight.
The Warriors and Knicks will try to extend their season at least one more game from the comforts of their home tonight.
For the first time in a while, the Grizzlies and Heat can sit back and watch. Surely Lionel Hollins and Erik Spoelstra have begun thinking about the next matchups and what to do. Even if gameplans will not get installed until later. After all, Memphis brought dogs to their practice the day after eliminating the Thunder.
This would be the time to relax a bit in the Playoffs and try to recoup while you wait.
Since they are waiting, they can think about who they would rather face. So who would Miami and Memphis like to see in the next round? Let's answer.
Why Miami would like to see Indiana
The Pacers are the top defensive team in the league and are extremely difficult to crack. They feature a big front line in David West and Roy Hibbert that do a solid job on the boards. However, much like Chicago, Indiana is not consistent offensively. The Pacers will go through stretches where they simply cannot score. And, unlike the Bulls, they do not mind pushing the pace some. This plays into MIami's hands.
Last year, the Pacers forced the Heat to six games. But that was largely with Chris Bosh injured. Bosh is healthy now and playing well. Even if Dwyane Wade's knee continues to bother him, LeBron James and Bosh should provide enough consistent offense to help the Heat score. And Miami's defense is nothing to laugh at either and should be much tougher for Indiana to crack than New York's.
Why Memphis would like to see San Antonio
If any team can match up with the burly inside of the Grizzlies, it is the Spurs. But the Spurs have shown plenty of their warts in this series against the Warriors. A team that can match them inside and play with energy and hit shots can defeat them. Memphis is not quite Golden State, but it can provide the same ability to muscle San Antonio around. The Grizzlies also have the defense to at least to contain some of the Spurs options.
While Memphis is a different team and San Antonio is a different team, there is some confidence coming from the Grizzlies' series win over the Spurs a few years ago. Many of the players are the same and the Grizzlies fit together and play together well. This would be a very competitive and intriguing series.
Why Miami Would Like to See New York
The Knicks are falling back into bad habits. When they play well, they are a dangerous offensive team that moves the ball well and uses that energy to feed into their defense. They can be extremely devastating and are rarely out of games thanks to their 3-point shooting. When they struggle, the ball gets stuck in one person's hands and the defense suffers.
Not helping either is that Mike Woodson is using puzzling rotations and minute distributions for his team. Steve Novak and Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland have fallen in and out of the lineup despite their ability to shoot and spread the floor for guys like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, both of whom have struggled against Indiana. Miami's defense would try to suffocate Anthony and Smith much the same way. Although New York defeated Miami three times this season.
Why Memphis would like to see Golden State
The Warriors are a team much like the Thunder. They rely heavily on one player to set everyone up and want to get up and down the court. The Warriors right now arguably can attack the Grizzlies from different areas much better than the Thunder could with just Kevin Durant (and possibly have better coaching to do so). But the theory is much the same.
The Grizzlies have shown that they can adequately slow and speed the game up when they need to. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol should also be able to stand up to Andrew Bogut pretty well too. At some point the stage might get too big for the Warriors. And the Grizzlies seem determined that this will be their time.