Heat/Celtics Series Preview
It was inevitable… Wasn’t it?
by Jonathan Evans
If as LeBron says, Philly was Miami’s breakfast the Celtics aren’t exactly a quick lunch on the way to the conference finals. This Boston team has the tools to make this one Miami’s last meal. This much anticipated match-up seems almost destined to happen. The narrative arc of each team couldn’t bend any other way; each has to go through the other to fulfill their destiny.
As these tams set to square off on Sunday, here are some key things to watch for:
Can R-Double lead the way. There is no more pivotal player to this series than Rajon Pierre Rondo. That extra oomph in this match-up of Big Four against Big Three, Rondo is the C’s engine and was the best player out there during the first round. Miami is a stiffer challenge than the Knicks, but he should be able to handle the corpse of Mike Bibby and exert his will on both sides of the ball. If he can dictate the tempo, call his own number and take care of business at the charity stripe, Miami will have absolutely no answer for him.
LeBron James versus Paul Pierce. In many ways their match-up is a microcosm of the teams, the cagey veteran going against the insanely talented icon. Three years removed from their epic face off in 2008, the plotline stays the same but the stakes are even higher for King James. On the court this one tilts in favor of Bron Bron, and given his repeat failings at the hands of Boston, he’ll without a doubt be looking to prove himself and validate his legend. While it’s nearly impossible to stop Bron Bron, The Truth does have a history of making things difficult for him and a strong showing by Pierce could add another chapter to his Celtic fable.
Is DWade is allergic to green? Agent D3’s numbers aren’t great against Boston this season totaling just 12.8 points per game on 28 percent shooting in their four games. Miami will need more from Wade to get through Boston.
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh KG’s responsibilities to the C’s defense have only increased since the Perkins trade. With the continual uncertainty of the O’Neal brothers, he’ll be even more critical to Boston’s frontline. KG has a history of getting the better of Bosh and that seems to have been the case in each of the four regular season games as Bosh has gone for 8, 15, 24, and 13 points in each game. To his credit, Bosh has found his grove with Miami as the season progressed. As part of their Big Three his production is almost a given, but Bosh needs to exceed what’s expected of him. His ability to step up and get dirty down low or manufacture his own shot and not just get his in the flow of the offense will loom large for Miami’s chances.
Prediction – Celtics in 6. Miami unquestionably has the two best players in the series – and arguably on the planet — and that in it of itself could propel them to the series win. But Boston has the more talented team top to bottom, plays better defense, and most importantly has battle tested crunch time chemistry. The Sixers series did not do much to allay these same concerns that hover over Miami. While the Heat could definitely rise to the occasion, look for the combination of ubuntu and Rondo to get the job done.