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Friday, May 20, 2005

Big Questions about the Eastern Conference Finals

5 Big Questions

One of the most eagerly anticipated sporting events in recent South Florida sports history is now upon us. For much of the NBA season, Miami Heat fans have been gearing up for a date with the defending world champion Detroit Pistons. The series begins Monday at the American Airlines Arena. Here is my take on the key questions for both teams. Let assume for the sake of argument that Shaq is healthy and ready to go Monday night's opener.

Can Tayshaun Prince take away Dwayne Wade's ability to drive to the basket?

Prince is a rare specimen. He’s a tall, athletic swingman with a huge wingspan. He is the toughest matchup Dwayne Wade has faced all year. My assumption is that Prince will frustrate Wade and force other Miami perimeter players to score. Thus, Eddie Jones has to step up large for the Heat.

Will Detroit's bench contribute?

Carlos Arroyo, the former FIU standout's solid play in Game 5 against Indiana was a good sign for the Pistons. Antonio McDyess has also played well off the bench. Detroit needs Lindsay Hunter to really give some quality minutes in the series. However, Miami's bench appears on paper to be much more formidable. Shandon Anderson will get some major minutes for the Heat as a defensive stopper, and look for Rashual Butler to also get some time as a three point specialist, ala Janero Pargo of Chicago in the opening round of the playoffs.

How many open looks will Damon Jones and Keyon Dooling get?

This could be the deciding factor in the series in my humble opinion. I really feel that Dooling and Jones have to get open looks at jump shots coming off of screens for the Heat to win the series. My thinking is that Dwayne Wade will be less effective than usual with Tayshaun Prince guarding him very effectively. That means that one of these two streak shooters must get hot for Miami to stay in the series.

Can Alonzo Mourning and Christian Laettner give quality minutes off the bench?

Alonzo Mourning has been outstanding in the playoffs. His defense and work ethic are unrivaled on the Heat. Christian Laettner has proven to be a strong presence off of the bench and is probably the best passer of any big man left in the playoffs. Laettner works especially well with Shaq in the game.

Can anyone outcoach Larry Brown?

I'll answer this question myself. NO.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.