Apr 12, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) brings the ball up court against the Atlanta Hawks during the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff Previews: Miami’s Ring Chase Begins Today

Miami vs. Charlotte: While Charlotte is a top ten defensive team Miami makes 50% of their shots. Charlotte has a losing record on the road and not enough shooters on the perimeter to stay with Miami when Lebron goes on his typical third quarter run. But Charlotte will feed Al Jefferson over and over again. He is the best big man in this series and will dominate. It won’t be enough. No one on Charlotte can match James’ speed and strength at the rim. Charlotte is going to need unbelievable offensive games from Chris Douglas-Roberts and Kemba Walker to keep it close. But even that is not the point. Two years ago Charlotte won seven games. Now they are in the playoffs. Wild Cards: Mario Chalmers (Miami), Gary Neal (Charlotte)

San Antonio vs. Dallas: The Spurs have been waiting all year for this, for their revenge. Simply put their hearts were broken in a way that has not been seen in NBA Finals history. Their NBA best record was just for this moment. But their first round series is not a cakewalk. Dallas has a lot of offense which will test the Spurs defense. Nowitzki is still a deep threat. Monta Ellis can beat you off the dribble or shoot the three. Vince is old but streaky. Calderon can make Tony Parker play defense. The Mavs have no answer inside for Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter or the way the Spurs share the ball and rack up assists. Dallas defenders are old. However, they can pull off a game one upset if they shoot a high percentage and then let Dirk be Dirk. Otherwise the Spurs defense led by Kawhi Leonard will force them into bad shots and it won’t be close. Wild Card: Marco Belinelli (Spurs); Jae Crowder (Mavs)

Houston vs. Portland: This is why Dwight Howard left, so he could play on a contending team. But the Rockets give up a lot of points, a bad omen for a playoff team. Still, the Rockets have depth at every position, they defend on the perimeter and their up tempo style contrasts with the Blazers who play a more deliberate game. For the Blazers to have any success LaMarcus Aldridge is going to have to come up big against Terrence Jones. Damian Lillard will have to eviscerate Jeremy Lin and Wes Matthews is going to have to anticipate screens so he stay with Harden. Portland is a nice three point shooting team but so are the Rockets and Portland’s defense is no better than Houston’s. A very entertaining game but the Rockets shooting is too deep for the Blazers, at least in the first game. Wild Card: Patrick Beverly (Rockets); Nicolas Batum (Blazers)

Chicago vs. Washington: The John Wall era Wizards are making their first trip to the postseason. Whatever nerves they may have will last about a quarter. The slow paced Bulls are a perfect fit for the fast Wizards. The Bulls don’t have the speed for Wall or for Bradley Beal. The Wizards will need Trevor Ariza, who is having a career year, to hit open threes. The Bulls will counter with Noah and Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler and a little Dunleavy and Jimmer. Their defense will win this game or will lose this game. Their offense does not have enough weapons. But they’ll milk the clock and try to limit the Wizards possessions, they’ll try to force turnovers and make the Wizards play their game. John Wall has grown up this year. The max extension he signed in the summer will bear fruit. The dark days of the Wizards are over and they have a good shot in game 1. Wildcard: DJ Augustin (Bulls); Martell Wesbster (Wizards)

 

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