Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Miami Heat To Burn the Atlanta Hawks In Round One

The NBA playoff picture won't be fully decided for a few more hours, but there are some first round matchups that are already locked in.

The first one we're going to look at is the No. 4 seed Atlanta Hawks against the No. 5 seed Miami Heat.

The Hawks will be hosting the first round of a playoff series on home court for the first time since 1997, but like last year, they are only going to last one round.

Apart from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade is the single most destructive player in the East and while Joe Johnson is a solid player himself, he cannot carry the Hawks in the way that Wade can carry the Heat.

Atlanta simply don't have anybody capable of stopping Flash. Wade has been outstanding this year and has shown how dangerous he is when he stays healthy. He'll win the NBA scoring title and we'll probably finish in the top 3 voting for the MVP.

The only concern with Wade is his health. He'll play heavy minutes and his style of play means that he spends a lot of time at the free throw line. Most importantly though, Wade realizes that there are times when he simply has to take over and carry his team. It's not an ideal way to try to win a championship, but it will certainly be enough to get past the Hawks.

Atlanta will look to veteran Mike Bibby to take on a heavier scoring load, but Bibby is only serviceable these days, not deadly. Young center Al Horford has shown signs of improvement but he is limited offensively, enough so that the old legs of Jermaine O'Neal will be able to match up with him easily enough.

Joe Johnson showed against the Celtics in last seasons first round that he is an intelligent playoff basketballer by scoring a lot of high-percentage baskets, but he needs to explode like Wade can if the Hawks are going to progress beyond the first round.

They won't, Heat in five.

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