The Miami Heat return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row after beating the Indiana Pacers in six games. They did this without Chris Bosh in the lineup, and he could possibly miss the entire series against Boston.
His injury opens the door for Boston’s big men to dominate the Heat in the post, which Indiana failed to take advantage of in their series with the Heat.
After a grueling seven-game series with the 76ers it will be interesting to see if the Celtics can hold up in Game 1, which is just two days after the Philadelphia series ended.
Heat-Celtics Series Preview
The Miami Heat were silently celebrating when the Bulls fell to the 76ers. No one wants to see a star like Derrick Rose get hurt, but his injury and the subsequent series loss by the Bulls made the Heat the overwhelming favorites in the East.
Their chances to reach the Finals began to look dim after going down 2-1 to the Pacers, especially with Dwyane Wade’s five point performance in a Game 3 loss. That led to a crucial Game 4 for the Heat, a game in which LeBron and D-Wade combined for 70 points in a Heat win.
The Heat would win their next two games with LeBron and Wade combining for 58 and 69 points in the two games. It will take dominating performances from both of them to continue winning without Bosh, and that is just what they did to close out the series against Indiana.
With those two playing at such a high level, the only question for the Heat that remains is how the rest of the team will do. They have looked to Mario Chalmers for scoring thus far in the playoffs, and he has averaged over 11 points a game.
The only problem is that the next highest average belongs to Mike Miller, with 5.3 points a game. With Bosh out, someone will have to step up for the Heat. All of Boston’s attention will be shifted towards LeBron and Wade, and even Chalmers will be guarded by Rajon Rondo. This means that someone like Miller or even Shane Battier will have to have a breakout performance to help the Heat try and reach the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.
The Boston Celtics will need to use their stellar defense to try and shut down the Heat’s top two scorers. They successfully did this in their game against Miami on April 1st, in which they held James and Wade to a combined 38 points in a 91-72 win.
Boston went 3-1 against the Heat this season, with all three wins coming in April. (The third win came without James, Wade, and Bosh in the lineup, but Garnett and Rondo did not play either). The Celtics are capable of beating the Heat, but this requires The Big Four in Boston to play at their best both offensively and defensively.
The surprise player for Boston could very well be Brandon Bass. He is averaging double digits in points and should continue that matched up against the weak front-court of Miami. With Boston’s best shooters being guarded by Wade and James, Bass should see many opportunities to make a difference in this series.
While many will be pulling for the Celtics to win, it is very tough to pick against the Heat.
It was a foregone conclusion that they would reach this point in the playoffs, and without the Bulls left it is hard to see them not advancing.
I never want to count out the Celtics, but I have the Heat in six over Boston.
Who do you think will win?