NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals

This has been what every Celtics fan has waited for, a chance to beat the Heat. Neither of these teams are going to need a pep talk or any of that, every single player knows how important this series is. For the Celtics, it may be their last real shot at a title. And as for the Heat, it is time for LeBron to prove that he can win a championship and finally live up to what the Heat’s “Big 3” said. God only knows that LeBron needs this more than anyone. D-Wade has won a title and he was able to do it by himself. Don’t give me the, “He had Shaq” ordeal. We all know Shaq was on his way out during his Heat days, so let’s not get out of hand. This series will be a true test on how the Celtics can do without their best on ball defender, Avery Bradley. Bradley would have more than likely guarded Dwayne Wade, who has been on fire after what had been the worst game of his career. Ever since his 5 point, 2-13 shooting performance in Game 2, Wade has been a man amongst boys. He finished the last 3 games of the Pacers series averaging 33 points, 7 boards and 4 assists. Now I can only hope that Head Coach Doc Rivers does not assign Ray Allen to guard Wade, and let me tell you why. Allen has been absolutely brutal on defense ever since his multiple injuries. He looks like he should be using a walker out on the floor, and that won’t be acceptable guarding one of the elite scorers in the Association. The Heat come into this series without lead big-man, Chris Bosh, whichI didn’t believe would a big loss, but ended up being a real large one for the Heat. The Pacers were able to control the boards and the paint without Bosh being there, they just didn’t have the talent to keep up with the Heat.

Injuries have been big for both teams but don’t tell any of the players playing in this series. “I don’t believe none of that. No feet hurting, no (one being) tired, nothing. This is the Boston Celtics. They’re all 100 percent to me. When they play the Miami Heat, it’s a different ball game. And vice versa. No storylines. No excuses”, said Wade after being asked about the many injury issues. Both teams vow to focus on what they have working for them entering the series. But regardless of which team wins and advances to the NBA Finals, it will be one that had to survive significant adversity to get there. This short rest for the Celtics has almost been a blessing in the skies for them. When looking at it, it may seem as a bad thing, but if you look at it from a Celtics players perspective, it could be good. As we all know the Celtics are not a young team, heck they are ancient, let’s not beat around the bush, so rest could be the worst thing for them. As an old team rest may make the players stiff, and force players such as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, to have to re-motivate their body and warm all the way back up. “I kind of like it for us,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “It keeps us in rhythm. It keeps us playing. We’re an older team so we get kind of stiff when we sit around for too long. We like the fact that we’re going to go right into it.” Pierce knows how much energy this series is going to take, the question is, will the Celtics have enough in the tank to play a long series? And I just don’t know the answer to that. Ray Allen looks like he needs a wheelchair on the floor, and Pierce and KG have been logging some serious minutes in these playoffs. Pierce is averaging about 38 minutes a game, 2 more than his career average. KG is averaging just above 37 minutes a game, just a minute above his career average.

Many NBA fans are counting the Celtics out, to which I say, balderdash. The Celtics may not look like a good matchup for the Heat, but in reality the Heat are a better matchup for the Celtics than the Pacers are. The Heat have the dynamic duo, but other than that, it looks like the Celtics have a few advantages. The 2 biggest advantages are PG Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. Who is going to guard KG? Udonis Haslem? Joel Anthony? I mean no offense to those guys, but the way KG has been playing, he is going to embarrass them. Haslem and Anthony just don’t have the intangibles to guard KG. Defensively, KG is going to be able to park it down low and help out anyone and everyone on dribble drives, we all know offensively, Joel Anthony is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Another thing that helps the C’s in this series is that this is the kind of series that Rondo actually shows up to. He is one of those players, like one of my favorites, Antoine Walker, who show up “when the lights are on”. This series also should have enough “juice” for Rondo to be at his triple-double best, which is something the Celtics truly need. Paul Pierce may be a little taken out of his game with LeBron guarding him, if Rondo and KG can carry their load of the offense, Pierce will be able to get to his spots and hit is step-back jumper. I’m absolutely not counting the Celtics out that’s for damn sure, I just want them to keep it competitive, and give themselves a chance.

Miami comes in as the odds-on-favorites to take not only this series but the entire thing. The Heat have two of the best players to ever play basketball, the question is, will LeBron finally get his ring and silence the haters? The toughest thing for the C’s in this series, and the Heat’s biggest advantage, is how the Celtics defend James and Wade. So who is going to guard Dwayne Wade and LeBron? The short answer is anyone and everyone. You have to think Doc Rivers finally is going to utilize both Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic in this series. He has to, unfortunately, if for no other reason than to give Wade and James a different look. Don’t forget Mickael Pietrus, either. While he continues to struggle offensively, which he picked it up a bit in Game 7, he can defend. Throwing these guys in to defend LeBron and Wade is like throwing me out there, that may be a little drastic, but in all seriousness, the Celtics may be in some real trouble in this area. Don’t be surprised to see the Celtics go to a zone defense. It has worked before against Miami. Miami has other players who may be able to step up such as, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller (who looks like he is going to keel over tomorrow), and Shane Battier. If these guys are able to help out the Big 2, the Heat have a great chance to win the series.

No one, and I mean no one, is giving the Celtics a chance in Game 1 on Monday night. Why? Because it’s in Miami and the Celtics played on Saturday and had to travel on Sunday? That’s just ridiculous. Yes, the Celtics probably should have won the Philly series in5 games, but hey, who wants to make things easy I guess, right? Back in 1984, the Lakers were extended to six games in the Western Conference finals before finally eliminating Phoenix on a Friday night. They flew to Boston on Saturday to open the NBA Finals on Sunday afternoon — and beat the rested Celtics 115-109. Few expected the 2010 Celtics to beat the Magic in the conference finals, but with only two days’ rest, they flew to Orlando and beat the well-rested Magic in Game 1. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. And who knows what may happen. Maybe Lady Luck will be on the Celtics side within this week. LeBron could get food poisoning from the local restaurant and Wade could get hit by a car, I mean you never know. There is the great unknown in any series. Someone unexpected could make a difference in a big game. Someone (Insert Celtic Player Here) could find the Fountain of Youth (hey, they’re playing in Florida, which is where Ponce de Leon thought it was located). One minor adjustment could have major consequences.

I am just going to sit back and watch this series like I do every other one. This series is close to call but I’m a Boston guy, how could I go against the hometown team. We are the City of Champions, so what the hell, I’ll take the Celtics.

  • Celtics in 7
Dates/Locations/Times of Games
Game 1
Mon 5/28
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 2
Wed 5/30
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 3
Fri 6/1
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 4
Sun 6/3
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 5
Tue 6/5
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 6
Thu 6/7
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 7
Sat 6/9
8:30 PM ET on ESPN

One comment on “NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals

  1. Pingback: Celtics vs Heat Game 1 8:30 PM « The Esposito

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