Blog Entry

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

Posted on: April 30, 2011 6:05 pm
Posted by Royce Young

One Big Thing: Does anyone else get the sense that Game 1 is really, really important in this series? Either way, a tone is getting set. Either the Heat make a statement that things have changed and they're ready for the Celtics or Boston makes one saying it's more of the status quo.

Heck, package it in even tighter than that. The first six minutes of this game could say a whole lot about it. There's going to be a real mental aspect to this series and every little play is going to feel extremely large. I still haven't wrapped my head around this just being the Eastern Conference Semifinals yet.

The X-Factor: It's Rajon Rondo. There's absolutely no doubt about it. Miami has no one to guard him and with him getting his feel and command back against the Knicks, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra likely haven't slept the last 72 hours. The good Rondo changes every little thing about this series. If he's keyed in, breaking down the Miami defense and distributing, it's hard to see how the Heat can guard Boston for 48 minutes.

The Adjustment: Would Spoelstra dare get creative with his matchups? Mario Chalmers was good in Game 5 for the Heat, but could we see a lot of Dwyane Wade on Rondo? Of course now you've got to account for Ray Allen, but I get the feeling Mike Bibby and Chalmers have a better chance chasing Allen off screens than they do slowing Rondo off the dribble.

The Sticking Point: The season series tilted 3-1 in Boston's favor with the one Miami win coming when Rondo was in his post-Perk funk and the Celtics slipping a bit as a team. Hard to really take too much from that. Except maybe that the Heat built some confidence. I mean, remember at All-Star Weekend when James Jones beat Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the 3-point contest and said, "We finally beat you guys in something. " To that point, the Celtics were in their heads. Maybe just that simple regular season win has removed some of that doubt.

The Celtics conceded home court in this series with a poor finish. Not that Miami has a great advantage there (Fan Up, amirite?) but still, it's called "advantage" for a reason. Starting at home fresh off that win could be a big thing for the Heat. And with this first game, the first six minutes, heck the first possession being big, that could be the edge the Heat need to get started right.

Since: Jun 11, 2007
Posted on: May 1, 2011 6:58 pm

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

I really like the Heat's chances in this series,  Most of the Celtics are getting up there in age, and I think it is advantageous for the Heat to string this series out.  Miami has tremendous horsepower and a high energy. fairly young team.  Sure, Boston has more experience, but unfortunately that is what brings the age thing in to play.  I'll pick the youth and extreme talent of Miami over the depth and experience of Boston.  This Heat team has the possibility of becoming the best team in NBA history with a few key additions in the upcoming year.  They are already a really good team.  I think they wear out the Celtics in five or six games in this series.

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: May 1, 2011 5:52 pm

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

I would expect Boston to win at least one of the first two games with the Heat in Miami.  As of this writing lt looks like it will have to be game 2, however.  All the Celtics need is one of the first two to put huge pressure on the Heat.  And the Celtics have the talent, evperience, and depth to pull this off.  Rondo and the Boston bench will have to be the key difference makers in this series with the Heat.  Miami can really do very little about these resources for Boston.  They really have nothing to respond with.  But, Rondo and the bench must step up and respond to this match up opportunity.  Just having it on paper will not defeat the Heat.  If they do not respond, I give the edge to Miami.  But, they have responded in situations like this during most of the season, so the edge right now tips to Boston's favor.  I can easily see Boston winning this series in 6.  This should be one of the best, if not the best, series of the entire playoffs.  Everything points to a highly spirited contest where virtually anything and everything can, and will, happen.  I just hope nobody gets hurt.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: May 1, 2011 3:05 pm

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

I really hate both teams here and my only wish is that a star player on both teams get hurt tonight and miss the rest of the season! Preferably Lebron and Pierce/Garnet! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHA



Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: May 1, 2011 2:26 pm

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

This is going to be a hard fought series. There's going to be a lot of hard fouls and ejections. I'm going to go with Boston on this one, 4-3. Miami is good but I think they are not gelling as a team yet. some nights they look like a championship caliber team but on other occasions, they look lost. boston on the other hand, their big 4 has won championship and been playing together for several years now so they know each other very well on the floor. This is going to be a great series. Miami, this is the time to prove to all your haters, me included, wrong.

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: May 1, 2011 1:56 pm

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

Excellent analysis, WUsTheMan. You said what I was thinking. Miami has advantages at the shooting guard and small forward positions, though those advantages are not as pronounced since both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are eminently capable of going off on their own account. And I would rate Pierce as a better defender than LeBron James - even at this stage in his career. For James to dominate that matchup, he's going to have to hit his perimeter shots consistently - something he has yet to prove he can do. Pierce and Allen on the other hand are both MUCH more consistent and reliable outside shooters than James and Wade.

On the interior, I would expect that Kevin Garnett will pretty much take Chris Bosh out of the equation. Garnett is still a superior defender and Bosh is the weak point of Miami's Big Three. So I do not believe that Miami will get consistent inside production from Bosh in this series. And without it, that forces James and Wade to do even more. Can they? We'll see.

Rajon Rondo is the nightmare matchup for Miami. As pretty much everyone has pointed out, Miami has absolutely no one who can guard him. Therefore, if Rondo's head is in the series, he can carve up Miami the way Chris Paul did to the Lakers. The difference is that Rondo has far more help than Paul had and he should be able to really hurt Miami. If Miami is forced to put wade on Rondo, that will take a lot of energy and Wade is the only reliable end-game scorer Miami has. James has never proven to be a reliable closer the way Wade has. 

The remainder of the teams' respective lineups all favor Boston. They have a better bench, they are deeper and they have no obvious weaknesses that Miami can exploit. Losing Perkins will hurt them against a team that has serious inside size, but Miami doesn't have that. Miami on the other hand has some serious weaknesses at the point and on the interior and I would be surprised if Doc Rivers cannot exploit those weaknesses. 

Which brings us to the final point. Doc Rivers is a proven winner and even without Tom Thibodeau, he has a solid team. I would have to give the coaching edge to him - Spoelstra has done a good job this season with his top-heavy team, but I don't think he is in the same category - at least not yet. 

If I had to make a call, I think I wuld pick Boston in six. I expect them to steal one of the first two games and then protect their homecourt. I just cannot buy into any team that has as many weaknesses as Miami has. 

Since: Mar 25, 2011
Posted on: April 30, 2011 11:46 pm

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

Why does Rondo always look so slimy?

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: April 30, 2011 8:17 pm

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

This series is a great match up.  Miami's triad against Boston's four plus.  Old vs. new.  While I give a slight edge to  the Miami triad vs. Kevein Garnet, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, that's about all I can muster as a possible advantage for the Heat.  Oh yeh, and a slight home court advantage, very slight, maybe.  But Miami has no answer for Rajon Rondo.  They do not match up with the O'Neals at center.  Boston's bench is much better and deeper than Miamis'.  Don't get me wrong as Miami has one heck of a team coming together, but it's not finished yet.  There are additional moves needing to be made to fill some glaring holes in their roster.  Boston has no such glaring holes.  Miami is capable of beating any team in the NBA on any given day, but a seven game series is a whole other beast.  Miami has their triad, and that's really it.  Boston has all stars at every starting position, with extremely stout bench players coming to their relief.  Clearly a huge advantage for Boston.  As this series grinds on, this will become more and more obvious.  In a funny way, the home court advantage for Miami in this series may in reality be a disadvantage for Miami.  The first two games will be a war for both teams.  A lot of energy flows from each team.  Boston will be really tired, but gets to go home.  Perhaps it would be better for Boston to lose energy at home in the first two games, then have to hit the road for two.  Oh well, that clearly is not in the cards.  I think as it is set up, Boston has a very good chance of winning one or both of the first two games in Miami.  And when they do, Miami will be in a hole they will be unable to climb out of.  Then they go to Boston.  I just don't see Miami running this gauntlet.

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