NBA fans rejoice...The b-ball Gods have smiled on us again...Twice in the last 3 seasons we have been treated to Celtics-Lakers rivalry renewed in the Finals...This year we get a 2nd Round match-up that has the hype and potential worthy of a NBA Finals
On June 28, 2007 the Boston Celtics traded Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and #5 overall pick (Jeff Green) to the Seattle Super Sonics (remember them?!) for Ray Allen (Big Baby Glen Davis also came to Boston in that deal so damn fine deal for ex-Jays player Danny Ainge)...July 31, 2007 the C's traded a record 7 players to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett...Jesus Shuttleworth aka Ray Allen and KG became teammates with resident Celtic Paul Pierce and the original Big 3 was created...
July 7, 2010 Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade go on espn to announce they will be signing and re-signing with the Miami Heat...July 8, 2010 LeBron James has his ill-conceived "Decision" show to announce he is taking his talents to South Beach...The backlash creates the Miami Hate...New Big 3 is created
As fans we all hoped the playoff seeding would allow for a meeting of Heat/Celtics and here we go!
Boston was the better team in winning the first 3 regular season match-ups, then Miami laid a beat-down in the 4th and final reg season meeting...That lone Heat win was vs a C's team that was in their usual boredom-mode as the season was winding down...C's are built for the playoffs...Heat are being tested for the first time
Question #1 for the Celtics will be what level can they get to on the defensive end...The C's are down Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen from previous playoff runs...Those guys were really great fits to the Team D that the C's used to win 2 Eastern Conference Titles, and 1 NBA Title in the past 3 years...This could really sting vs a talent like Dwayne Wade...Ray Allen will need a ton of help with Wade...One thing that the C's do so well on O is run defenders like Wade through multiple physical screens which could help slow him on O...To replace Perkins the Celtics will need Shaq and Nenad Krstic to go with (a hopefully healthy and rejuvenated) Jermaine O'Neal to give depth and consequences in the paint...
On the offensive end the Celtics provide a rare scoring answer to all of Miami's Big 3...Allen can score with Wade...Pierce can score with Bron Bron...KG can score with Bosh...Scoring with any of Miami's Big 3 is a tough task of course, but PP/KG/Jesus Shuttleworth have been putting the ball in the net for ages...The C's eliminated Wade's Heat and LBJ's Cavs in 2010 largely on the strength of the Rajon Rondo coming out party...Rondo was able to dribble anywhere he wanted, and able to create any passing or shooting angle he wanted...That is one of the main reasons I have been confused as to why would Wade and LBJ sign with Miami?Mario Chalmers is the answer to Rajon Rondo?!?! I am underwhelmed by the addition of Mike Bibby too...The key player will be Rondo (ironically not one of the Big 3) and his ability to get Allen, Pierce, and KG the ball in scoring positions, plus his ability to drive past defenders and create in the paint...If Rondo ever adds a jumper to his game he will be unreal
For the Heat you can expect Wade and James to be great every game...A key will be Chris Bosh...The individual CB4 vs KG match-up was won by KG in the 4 regular season games...17 points per game with 9 rebounds per game for KG vs 15 ppg and 8 rpg for Bosh...Miami is getting contributions these days from Canadian Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but Bosh has to be better than KG and give the Heat a "win" in that match-up...Bosh's +/- in the losses to Boston this season were brutal...A major wild-card for the Heat frontcourt is the potential return of co-captain Udonis Haslem...In November 2010 Haslem ruptured a ligament in his foot and expects to return for Round 3 (he hopes as early as Round 2)...Haslem is a rare asset on this roster that can hang with the physicality that the C's play with
We will mention the obvious that Wade and James need to be amazing in this series...We will mention the obvious that both are capable of being amazing...It does need to be mentioned that this Heat team got a ton of W's this season by blowing teams out...Their record in close games is a pathetic 6-15 (close game is game decided by 5 or fewer points)...Heat's late game shooting has been bru-tal...We can analyze this series forever, but if the late-game shooting continues on its retched path the Heat will be bounced...The majority of the games in Round 2 going forward will be decided by 5 points or less...The Heat's chance to blow out the C's is if they can get Mario Chalmers to stay hot...Chalmers, and guys like James Jones and Mike Miller, will have to significantly contribute from 3-ball land to give the Heat enough spread to open a lead that would knock out the Celtics...The playoff/let's dominate switch seems to have been flicked ON again for Doc Rivers and his crew so the Heat need to understand that a complete team effort will be required to win 4 games before Boston can
On the defensive end the Heat will likely see a lot of guys playing out of position...This is because they will not be able to survive to even a Game 6 if they just have Chalmers and Bibby to deal with Rondo...Multiple looks will be required using multiple players to try to slow Rondo...The actual defender on RR is only the beginning, the 4 other defenders better accorder une attention aussi...Especially the big men as RR is able to beat any defender off the dribble and penetrate into the lane for passes and kick-outs to open shooters so guys like Bosh, Anthony, Big Z (and perhaps Haslem) need to be alert and ready/able to close on that shooter to contest the open shots that RR creates...The other reason that Heat players will play out of position is that this team will surely need Mike Miller to score and contribute to win this series...Miller plays both the SF and SG positions which of course are spoken for by D-Wade and LeBron James so when the Heat want or require all 3 on the floor adjustments have to made on the D end
These 2 teams both have brutal benches...I would say that when Jeff Green comes off the Boston bench he is the only sub that has a chance to significantly impact any game...Each team has specialists off the bench like Dampier (interior D and 6 fouls to give) Miller/Jones/Eddie House (3-balls) for the Heat and O'Neal/Krstic (size) plus Glen Davis (scoring and effort) for Boston, but only Green has the potential to contribute on both ends of the floor
Nothing to compare with the coaches...Doc Rivers has been amazing these past 3 years and will be in heavy demand after he retires from the C's, while Erik Spoelstra will not be in South Beach for much longer and when he is dismissed he will not be in demand at all...Complete opposites here...
Ultimately the C's may need their Big 3, plus Rondo, plus maybe even one or both of the O'Neal's to win this series, but I do them getting this done...Celtics in 6
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