Let the 2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs begin and first up are the Heat and the Pacers. The Heat beat a Knicks team that just couldn't get it, mostly health, together to put up more of a fight and the Pacers get here after trouncing the Orlando Magic and Stan Van Gundy (#dietpepsiswag).
Heat: LeBron is showing people that he's the best player on the planet, those are not my words, but from the sage named Charles Barkley. I tend to agree that this version of the Heat are scary on both sides of the ball. We can safely say that the torch is slowly being handed to LeBron from Wade as the leader of this Heat team and that makes them even better. In this series we are going to expect that Wade and LeBron show up, but this won't be the cakewalk that some think this will be.
Who has to step up: It's going to be the Heat bigs. Bosh, Haslem, Anthony, Howard, and might we even see Pittman and (gulp) Curry in this series. The Pacers have length, height, and depth in their frontline and the Heat are going to have to use the bodies they have to deal with this.
Pacers: The Pacers are that team that no one wants to play. They are a solid team that can play defense and the ability to put points on the board when necessary. Did I mention that they are deep at every position? They pose problems for the Heat because they can slow it down and protect the rim, but the question may be who steps up from an offensive side of the ball in order to offset the Heat Big 3.
Who has to step up: Danny Granger, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert. Yes, Granger and George, both essentially play the same position, but these guys are going to have to score and score efficiently. Did I mention defense too? These two guys are going to have to average 20 a piece and come close to matching the output of Wade and LBJ if the Pacers hope to win this series. Roy Hibbert is going to have to protect the paint and not be in any dunk posters (do they still have those?) that we used to put up on our wall. Hibbert is the biggest guy on the court and should be able to get a few easy buckets and alter some shots.
Outcome: Don't really like the matchup for the Heat, but it's something that they can handle. Heat should win this one in 6 and prepare for the East Conference Finals.