2012 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

By Dennis Berry

The NBA Playoffs will kick off this weekend. Over the course of the next month we will watch as teams eliminate each other until a NBA champion is crowned.

Here is the first part of our NBA Playoffs preview. We take a look at the Eastern Conference. The playoff teams have been set, but the match ups are still in the air. We know that Chicago, Miami, Indiana, Boston, Atlanta, Orlando, New York, and Philadelphia are in.


Even without knowing what the match-ups are, the East comes down to two teams that can win the Conference Title; the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. They have been the best two teams all season in the East. They should meet in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Bulls have been the top team in the East all year. They were able to achieve this without a full season of Derrick Rose. Rose has missed over a third of the season because of injuries, but Chicago kept rolling.

They can thank CJ Watson and John Lucas for that. With Rose out of the lineup, both players came in and were able to fill in for last season’s MVP.

Chicago’s strength is that they play hard. They are the best defensive team in the NBA, allowing only 88.4 points a game. Opponents are shooting just 42% from the floor and 33% from three. They are also the best rebounding team in the NBA, leading the league in total rebounds and offensive rebounds.

Chicago could face either New York or Philadelphia in the first round. The second round they could see Atlanta or Boston. They should beat both teams to make the Conference Finals.

Miami has had its share of up and downs this year. They finished near the top of the East again, but at times appeared bored or disinterested during the regular season. This team has been waiting for the Playoffs to redeem themselves.

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James and shooting guard Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (left) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade (right) during the first half of game one in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Knicks of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the American Airlines Arena. Photo courtesy by: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE.

The Heat still have the "Big 3" – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. That alone makes them a threat in the East.

So what does Miami do well? Simply put, they like to get out and run. They are one of the best transition scoring teams in the NBA. They like to create turnovers which allow Wade and James to get out and run.

They are one of the top scoring teams in the NBA averaging 99.4 points a game. If they can’t score in transition they will attack the basket in the half court. They average 42 points a game from the paint.

Given their strength on offense, they are still tough on defense giving up only 92 points a game.

They will open against either New York or Philadelphia and then should face Indiana in the second round. No problem is expected for the Heat on their way to the conference finals.

Dark Horses

While many expect the Bulls and Heat to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, it is not a given. There are two teams that may keep that from happening.

The Indiana Pacers are the best team in the NBA that you do not hear about. There is no “superstar” on this squad, just a bunch of good NBA players that have been assembled. They are deep with eight players averaging 20 minutes a game.

They have six players who average double figures in points, led by Danny Granger at 18 points a game. With Roy Hibbert and David West, they are a great rebounding team.

This Pacers team will cause the Heat or Bulls problems in the second round.

The Boston Celtics are the other team to watch out for. That may be hard to believe seeing how well Boston has been playing since the All–Star break. They were written off by many – including us – but have charged back to win the Atlantic Division.

The Celtics are still one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, ranking in the top five. They really started to play their best when Kevin Garnett moved to center and Ray Allen accepted a role coming off the bench. That allowed Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley to start and thus provided more energy.

Even with how well the Celtics have been playing it is hard to see them getting by Miami or Chicago in the second round.

The Rest

The Atlanta Hawks are still the same group of players who have not performed in the playoffs. They may give Boston some trouble in the first round; they went 1-2 versus Boston with the two losses by a combined 5 points. Still don’t expect them to advance.

The Orlando Magic appeared to be serious contenders in the East. Then they went south with daily rumors and controversy surrounding Dwight Howard and Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. Now Howard is out with a back injury and the Magics' playoff chances went with him. They have a losing record without Howard in the lineup.

If you are talking roller coaster seasons the New York Knicks have had a good one, but it is about over. They will have to face the Heat or Bulls in the first round. They do not have the talent to compete with either team. Their only chance would be if Carmelo Anthony averages 40 a game and Amare Stoudemire goes 20 points and 15 rebounds every game, and JR Smith and Steve Novak go crazy from three. That is not happening against Miami or Chicago.

It appeared that the Philadelphia 76ers would be the feel good story of the NBA this year. They started out 20-9 before losing five straight before the All-Star break. Since then they have been playing sub .500 basketball. They have struggled offensively and their defense has not been strong. We all know this is not a way to win in the NBA.

In the end, look for the Miami Heat to win the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year. The “Big 3” will be too much for the rest of the conferences to overcome.

Eastern Conference Finals Prediction

The Miami Heat will face the Chicago Bulls for the second straight year. This time the series will go six games, but the Heat will once again advance to the NBA Finals.

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