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What was meant to be: Celtics and Heat Conference Finals Preview

Posted By Warren Shaw On May 27 2012 @ 2:19 pm In Boston Celtics | No Comments

Blame it on the injury of the Chicago Bulls All-Star guard Derrick Rose. You can even blame it on their coach, Tom Thibodeau, depending on your take.

But when the Bulls lost Rose to injury, the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals fate was forever changed to include the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

Boston has benefited the most as a healthy Bulls team most likely would have defeated them in the Semi-finals. The Celtics almost squandered their opportunity against the lesser Philadelphia 76′ers winning a hard fought series in 7 games. [1] Better late to the party than not at all for for the Celtics.

Miami has been resting after defeating a surprisingly game and physical Indiana Pacers team in 6 games on their side of the playoff bracket. With extra time to shop for post-game outfits [2]the Heat will enter the Eastern Conference Finals with home court advantage and plenty of rest on Memorial Day.

These two teams are not strangers to each other having met in 3 consecutive years. Ironically each year the stakes have been higher with a chance at the NBA Finals on the line in this series.

Both teams have significant injuries affecting their chances. The Heat are playing without Chris Bosh who is out with an abdominal strain indefinitely. He could return at some point during the series or not at all.

Boston’s injuries are more significant. Avery Bradley is out for the season after shoulder surgery. Ray Allen shouldn’t be playing with the bone spurs in his ankle but yet he limps out there night after night. Paul Pierce still has a sprained MCL and he too keeps pushing through.

With all of that said here is a look at the key components of this series and who has the advantage to move on to the NBA Finals.






Mario Chalmers

Rajon Rondo

Boston: Rondo when engaged has been one of the best players in the playoffs. When he is not the Celtics struggle mightily.  He is better than Chalmers and will need to play like it in every game.

The services of Chalmers were retained due to his playoff performance last year. He has been consistent for the Heat averaging 11 points per game so for this postseason. Boston will need to keep him off the 3pt line where is shooting 40% so far in the playoffs.


Dwyane Wade

Ray Allen

Miami: Wade has been electric since the media and fans turned on him after his 5 point outing in Game 4 of the Semi-finals. He had his knee drained and has been pretty much unstoppable since. Without Avery Bradley the Celtics have nobody that can stay in front of Wade who should abuse the gimpy Ray Allen something awful in this series.

Allen has been a shell of his usually sharp shooting self in these playoffs. His ankle is on fire and that is not a good thing. Chasing Wade through screens or trying to defend his lethal in and out dribble is not what the doctor ordered for Allen.  His best chance to contribute will be on catch and shoot opportunities, without his 3 point shooting the Celtics are lost.


LeBron James

Paul Pierce

Miami: LeBron is the MVP and he is going up against a hobbled Pierce. With averages of 29 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists so far in the playoffs there is little explanation needed as to why he has the advantage. He is the best overall player in basketball. Period.

Pierce continues to defy the odds and give the Celtics their most consistent scoring option. Igoudala gave him fits in the semis and LeBron will do that times 100 on both ends of the floor. Look for Boston to involve Pierce in pick and roll to free him up against lesser defenders.


Udonis Haslem

Brandon Bass

Even: If there was ever two players who epitomized the workman’s mentality its Bass and Haslem. Bass is still learning how to play defense the Celtics way and Haslem is already a rugged defender who may see time on Garnett as well. Both guys shoot the mid-range jumper with regularity but Bass means more to the Celtics attack than Haslem does for Miami. Coach Spoelstra is still fiddling with his lineup and there is a chance Shane Battier starts at this spot while Miami awaits the return of Bosh.


Rony Turiaf

Kevin Garnett

Boston: Garnett has been a beast in the playoffs averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds so far. He is likely to see multiple defenders throughout the series with Joel Anthony being the only one who should force him to the perimeter. Garnett needs to live in the paint against all other Miami defenders.

Turiaf is hustle player that could bother Garnett by virtue of his physical nature. He crashes the boards and should be valuable in getting the Heat second chance opportunities with offensive rebounding against rebounding impaired Celtics.

Key Bench Players

Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Joel Anthony, Norris Cole, and James Jones

Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins, and Keyon Dooling

Miami: Both teams have terrible bench production but Miami’s would get the edge if Bosh returned to the starting lineup sending either Haslem or Battier back to a reserve role. With Anthony’s defense and occasional shooting from Mike Miller the Heat’s bench is the lesser of two evils.

The Celtics bench is now completely defunct because Ray Allen has returned to the starting lineup due to Bradley’s injury. Pietrus has regained some of his confidence and he is the most likely Celtic to contribute off the bench. Hollins has leapfrogged Stiemsma in the rotation which says a lot about the state of the Celtics bench. Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels may also see time if Allen or Pietrus struggle….YIKES.


Erik Spoelstra

Doc Rivers

Boston:  Doc by virtue of his experience is the better coach in this series. He is the superior strategist and motivator. He will have to coach the series of his life to get Boston in the Finals.

Spoelstra is still earning the respect from his superstars as evidenced by the blowout he and Wade had in Game 4 against the Pacers. He doesn’t need to outcoach Doc he just needs to manage the minutes of his stars and not doing anything drastic to hinder the Heat.

Prediction: Heat in 6

The Celtics run at banner 18 should fall short in a valiant effort against the Heat. Boston thrives when they are the underdog and the way LeBron and Wade have played lately has everybody thinking Heat.

Whatever the outcome Boston will have a better showing against Miami than they did against Philadelphia and even against this same Miami team last year.

“You look at the talent of our team from last year to this year, it’s not even in the same ballpark” said Rivers “But I love this team. They fight for each other. We’re mentally tough. If Miami beats us, they’ll beat us by outplaying us. But I don’t think we’re going to run out of gas.”

The Celtics will need to play the best basketball of their lives to beat the Heat and its not likely that they can.

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[1] winning a hard fought series in 7 games.: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2012/05/27/rondos-run-rallies-the-celtics-past-76ers-in-game-7-85-75/

[2] post-game outfits : http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=6Lh&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1708&bih=723&authuser=0&tbm=isch&tbnid=QlKUJpl8jT3DNM:&imgrefurl=http://espn.go.com/espnradio/show%3FshowId%3Dmikeandmike&docid=GdZtQxHd-TOdeM&imgurl=http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2012/0524/nba_g_wade_b1_400.jpg&w=400&h=600&ei=1lPCT5L-KYPm9ATFxehK&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=1217&vpy=161&dur=1852&hovh=275&hovw=183&tx=124&ty=122&sig=117020060269465759761&page=1&tbnh=151&tbnw=103&start=0&ndsp=26&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0,i:88

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