Eastern Conference Finals Preview
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat have dominated the Eastern conference for close to a decade. In the past 7 seasons, one of these two teams represented the East in the Finals 5 times. Four years ago, the Celtics put together a “Big Three,” that has since become a trend for teams to find success. Once Derrick Rose, of the Chicago Bulls, went down for the season, this was the matchup that most people predicted and wanted.
“Inevitable. It’s the matchup the game of basketball wants,” Wade said Sunday afternoon. “Obviously, with the Chicago Bulls being out, this is the biggest matchup the Eastern Conference can have. So we accept the challenge and we look forward to the series.”
This series is filled with future Hall of Fame players on both sides with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James. With the way Rajon Rondo has been playing these past 4+ years, he might soon be in that mix as well. In the first round, my Knicks did not pose the Heat any trouble and lost in 5 games followed by a second round matchup against the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers put up a good fight…literally, but could not handle the combination of Wade and James, as most teams can’t, and lost in 6. Boston on the other hand had a much tougher road to the Eastern Conference Finals. In their first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Boston seemed to struggle a little with their offense and was forced to 6 games to win the series. In the second round, the Celts ran into an extremely motivated, nothing-to-lose team in the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers pushed the series to 7 games where Rondo eventually took over and closed out the series for Boston. This series between Miami and Boston should be a great one filled with amazing matchups.
Here’s how I see the positional matchups facing off for the series:
Guards: Although Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen probably form the best passer-shooter back-court in the NBA, the Miami Heat have a player named Dwayne Wade. What people seem to forget is that before the Celtics current team of all-stars was formed, Dwayne Wade led the Miami Heat to a Championship of his own and was named the MVP. It is very tough to find someone who can create his own shot as well as Wade can. As for Mario Chalmers, let’s just say he is very lucky to have Wade at his side. I don’t think that Chalmers will be able to handle Rondo’s speed and tenacity but if my thoughts are correct then Chalmers will defend Allen while Wade will have the tough task of stopping Rondo. In the end, I think Wade will be too much for either Rondo or Allen.
Edge: Miami Heat
Forwards: The 3-time MVP Lebron James + one of the greatest Celtics players of all time Paul Pierce = Great Matchup. Brandon Bass + Shane Battier = Solid role players. Even though both Bass and Battier play important roles for their respective teams, there are really only two forwards that will be followed in this series. Lebron James has shown all season long why people are already calling him one of the greatest ever even without a Championship ring. Paul Pierce does have a ring, and although he doesn’t have the same individual accolades that James possesses, I am sure he is content with his Champion title. Pierce is one of the best scorers on the court at all times but his skill set does not travel well to the defensive end. James on the other hand can play any position on the court and play it perfectly. James defends, passes, and scores at will and no one has figured out a way to stop him for the entirety of his career. Pierce and Bass provide great scoring options for Boston but how can someone bet against James and his capabilities.Edge: Miami Heat
Center: I truly hope that Chris Bosh is healthy for this series at some point because if he isn’t, Kevin Garnett should have a field day against the likes of scrubs Ronny Turiaf, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony. Garnett had a relatively quiet season compared to his career stats and there were a lot of skeptics saying that he was done. In his 16th season, KG seems to be playing as well as ever in the postseason, boasting numbers like 20 PPG and 11 RPG. Miami is really going to struggle in this matchup because with Bosh unhealthy they really don’t have anyone that can defend KG. Also, since Miami does not have one big man who poses any offensive threat whatsoever, Garnett should be able to relax to a certain extent on the defensive end.Edge: Boston Celtics
Bench: While neither team has a definitive sixth man, both teams rely mostly on their starters. The Celtics did have Ray Allen coming off the bench for majority of the season, but when Avery Bradley went down with season ending surgery, Allen was reinserted back into the starting rotation. That leaves Boston with Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling as the lone scores off the bench. Miami’s bench is as vacant as anyone I have ever seen. Outside of the sharp-shooting Mike Miller and a rare appearance by James Jones, there is not one formidable threat that the Heat can insert into their lineup. Rookie Norris Cole was an exciting player in the beginning of the year but he has slowly become a distant memory. In the end of the day, neither of these teams benches will make much of an impact.
Edge: Boston Celtics
Coach: I’ll keep this one short and simple. Doc Rivers is a proven winner and a solid defensive minded coach that likes to hold his players accountable for their mistakes. I would like to know who Eric Spoelstra slept with to get his current job. His players don’t respect him, as was evident when Wade yelled at him in front of the team on national television. Last season Lebron pretty much body checked him coming to the bench. If the Heat don’t win the Championship this year, then I expect Pat Riley to release this waste of space.
Edge: Boston Celtics
Final Verdict: While the Celtics have a ton of talent, I just can’t justify betting against the Miami Wade/James…I mean Heat. Wade and James are just too good and the only two teams that I feel can top them are playing each other in the Western Conference Finals.
The Heat win in 6