The road to a repeat for the Miami Heat may be a lot bumpier than anyone initially thought and, believe it or not, it has nothing to do with the health of LeBron's fashion fearless sidekick, whom we all have come to lovingly know as Dwyane Wade.
After literally wrestling with the undermanned and chippy Chicago Bulls for most of the second round, the Heat may soon have the privilege of playing the suddenly indomitable Indiana Pacers, and then the equally massive Memphis Grizzlies after them for the whole "not two" enchilada.
Not even the Kardashians have slain as many Goliaths.
So, considering that Miami is most vulnerable against big opponents, are we all due to see one of the most shocking upsets in NBA playoff history?
Before you say no, keep a few things in mind.
One is that the Pacers and the Grizzlies currently share a 3-1 lead against their series opponents, so at the very least Miami can expect to see one of them if it plans to win it all.
Wade continues to be saddled by bruised knee issues and his health remains perpetually in question, so it would be surprising to expect a similar virtuoso performance this year.
Also, don't forget that the Pacers finished 2-1 against Miami during the regular season and probably have an entire season's worth of anger built up from the Heat eliminating them. Think that won't serve as motivation? And don't forget that their confidence will be sky high entering the Eastern Conference finals with the way they have sliced and diced the Knicks into the ground.
On the other side of the playoff landscape, the Grizzlies are on the verge of eliminating the Thunder, probably thanks mostly to Russell Westbrook's injury, and are soon due to meet a San Antonio team that they capably eliminated two years ago in the first round.
Granted, that doesn't guarantee that the Grizz are a shoo-in to come out of the West as a result, but with the tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph wreaking havoc in the paint like no other team in the playoffs, can we really expect the aging Spurs to make a convincing stand? They already seem to be overloaded with the Golden State Warriors despite the fact that Stephen Curry is at 64 percent because of his ankle issues and Mark Jackson is still carrying a Coaching for Dummies cheat sheet underneath his chalkboard.
By the way, in case you were wondering, the Heat were 1-1 against the Grizzlies in the regular season.
Is there enough beef among that tandem to slow down Ronnie, Vinny, Pauly D and the Situation on a basketball court? Probably. But unless the Heat's four horsemen plan to get down on a serious G.T.L. regimen, I worry about their prospects against the Pacers and Grizzlies.
Last point worth mentioning: Ever since the Dallas Mavericks successfully punked James into a bad performance in the NBA Finals, every team that has really challenged Miami since then has employed a similar strategy.
Now, even though the Bulls were too depleted in the second round to really make that M.O. work successfully, don't tell me you didn't see flashbacks of "gun shy LeBron" from the NBA Finals two years ago after Game 1.
Against the size, strength and toughness of the Pacers and possibly the Grizzlies, we can all expect more of the same.
So enjoy the spoils of watching Miami make mince meat out of their meager opponents. Because it's certainly starting to look like their last two curtain calls of this NBA season are going to be uglier than the next outfit Wade will don during a postgame conference.
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