The Eastern Conference playoffs begin Saturday at 3 p.m. with the easily the most intriguing of the first round match ups — the Boston Celtics vs. the New York Knicks.
Otherwise, there is not a ton of sizzle in the first round in the east, and really probably will not be a ton in the second round either. Still, if you dig deep enough you will find there is plenty to write about.
Here are five things to watch for in the Heatstern Conference.
1. Heat SMASH or Heat Cruise Control?
It probably will not make much of a difference because the Heat are going to win in four or five games regardless, but are they going to go out and beat Milwaukee by a combined 100 points in those four or five games or just take it easy and maybe let this thing go to six games? Personally I think it would be fun if they won in four games by an average of 25 points. That would be some late 90's Bulls stuff and something that has beend one just once — the 2010 Magic.
2. Are the Knicks in any way for real?
I think a lot of people are framing the Knicks-Celtics series as "What do the Celtics still have" but take a look at the Knicks. They have won one playoff game in the last 12 years. They have looked great lately, but were up and down all season. Is there pressure on the Knicks to win this series? What if they lose Game One? Then the Knicks are in a must-win situation in Game Two.
Aside from Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, the Knicks roster, nor their coach have the best track record in the postseason. I am not saying the Celtics are going to win this series, but I would not put money on either team.
3. The Hawks are a first round sleeper
The Atlanta Hawks might even be a second-round sleeper. That is because they have one of the best big man combos in the league. Al Horford and Josh Smith have the size and defensive smarts to deal with Roy Hibbert and David West. In four games against the Pacers, Horford averaged 16 points and eight rebounds, which shows that his production does not dip too much going against Hibbert, one of the league's best interior defenders.
Meanwhile, Horford's defense on Hibbert in their four matchups, limiting him to nine points and seven rebounds in those games. Atlanta's a top-10 defense, so the question is really can Jeff Teague do a good enough job getting in to the lane and can Kyle Korver, John Jenkins and others hit their open shots.
4. Hello there Brooklyn
A second-round beating from the Miami Heat would not be the worst way to end the rebirth of the franchise. However, losing to a Bulls team without Derrick Rose and potentially Joakim Noah in the first round when you have homecourt advantage is exactly how they should not want their first season in Brooklyn to end.
The Bulls are good and they will not go down without a fight, but there is no reason why the Nets should not win this series. And if they do, well there is not a lot they can do to their roster in the offseason to improve it.
5. LeBron James
He is good. I think he is going to average 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists this spring.