There is one series that NBA fans have been waiting for all season and it will begin next week as the Miami Heat host the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals starting on Sunday. The two teams are a study in contrasts in many different aspects starting with the fact that Boston has had its core together since the 2007-2008 campaign while Miami put together their roster last summer. The Celtics are an older team that started out the regular season strong but would fade down the stretch. The Heat on the other hand have three young stars that still have yet to peak and they would finish the campaign on a positive note surpassing the Celtics for the number two seed in the East during the last week of the season.
The two teams met four times during the regular season with Boston taking the first three contests but Miami may have gotten the most important victory as it pushed them past the “Green Team” in the Playoff hunt. However when the Post Season starts the regular season goes out the window as the Heat witnessed in their last series as the Philadelphia 76ers played them tough in each and every game of their match-up.
Because Miami wound up with the better seed they will host the Celtics in the first two games of their upcoming Playoff round. The Heat were 30-11 in their own arena during the regular campaign while Boston had a road record of 23-18. However even with the extra contest in their own building this veteran NBA observer still believes that the Boston Celtics will wind up in the Eastern Conference Finals while Miami will be heading homeward at the conclusion of this series.
The match-ups favor Boston as the Heat are weak at the point guard slot which is one of the Celtics strong suits as Rajon Rondo is one of the top five point guards currently playing in the Association. Miami definitely has the advantage at the shooting guard position as Dwyane Wade is a better player in this point in time than the always dangerous veteran Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett historically gets the better numbers when he goes up against Chris Bosh and even if Shaquille O’Neal is not ready to play Jermaine O’Neal and Nenad Krstic are superior to whatever center the Heat put on the court.
Which leaves one position for us to ponder; the small forward slot as LeBron James will be facing Paul Pierce. There is no doubt that James is the far superior athlete and is a more fundamentally sound player than the Boston All-Star is; however one key thing to remember is Pierce has a history of rising to the occasion in big games. The same can not be said for the reigning MVP as he has wilted under the pressure over the last few years in the Post Season. Until LeBron James shows that he can carry a team in a critical game I have to give the advantage to the Celtics.
Doc Rivers has shown over the past few seasons that he is one of the best coaches currently in the NBA while Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra is still very much an unproven commodity. The Celtics have the advantage on the reserve front also with players like Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Delonte West while the Heat has Mario Chalmers and not much else.
As I have written since last summer when the Heat assembled their roster; their future is bright but I don’t see them getting by Boston in a seven game series. The Boston Celtics will win this match-up in six games and advance to the next round of the Playoffs