The Conference Finals start today, featuring two teams that want to return to the NBA Finals against two challengers ready to become championship contenders.
In the Eastern Conference, the Pacers once again clash with the Heat. The Pacers will be looking to avoid a repeat of last season, when the Heat advanced to the NBA Finals after seven games. Indiana hasn’t played well but a matchup against Miami favors them because their defense is capable of forcing the Heat to win ugly.
LeBron James is averaging 30.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game in the playoffs and the Pacers will have to try to contain him as much as possible and focus on Wade, Bosh and Allen. Having home court advantage can also help Indiana but they have to step up on offense to keep up with Miami.
In the Western Conference we will witness a battle of two of the most consistent teams over the last few years, as well as intriguing matchups featuring some of the biggest names in the league like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan.
The Thunder will be without Serge Ibaka, who is expected to miss the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury. This will be the second year in a row that the Thunder lose a key player in the playoffs. Last year, they lost Russell Westbrook and now they will be forced to battle the Spurs without their best interior defender. Losing Ibaka means that the Thunder will face an uphill battle trying to contain Tim Duncan and it will also hurt them on offense, as Ibaka became a weapon on that side of the court this year.
The Spurs are healthy and they will have home court advantage but it will be interesting to see how Durant and Westbrook counter to help the Thunder overcome the obstacles ahead.
Below are the Conference Finals Series Prices at America’s Bookie:
Miami Heat -355
Indiana Pacers +295
Oklahoma City Thunder +180
San Antonio Spurs -220