Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Season Series: 3-0, Celtics, Boston Celtics 92 @ Miami Heat 85, Boston Celtics 112 @ Miami Heat 106 OT, Boston Celtics 107 vs Miami Heat 102.
Relevant Statistics: Boston: 91.7 possessions per game (20th), 107.7 points scored per 100 possessions (15th), 103.5 points allowed per 100 possessions (4th). Miami: 89.8 possessions per game (28th), 106.7 points scored per 100 possessions (19th), 104.3 points allowed per 100 possessions (7th).
Hit the jump to see the individual match-ups for the Celtics and the Heat…
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs Carlos Arroyo
Rondo isn’t going to have much trouble getting past Arroyo on the offensive end should be able to roam defensively, which is when he is at his best on that end of the floor. He should be able to rack up steals by playing back and reading the passing lanes. Arroyo has been a little better than the first time I saw him and he hasn’t been that bad offensively, where he has shot 48% from the field, so at least he’s better than Rafer Alston.
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade has gotten little credit for having such a fantastic season this year. He’s the league’s fifth best scorer, the second best defensive two guard, the most explosive player and he’s extremely motivated going into the playoffs. Though Boston swept the season series, Wade averaged 34 points, nine assists, five rebounds, two steals, and a block a game with 50% shooting from the floor and 10 trips to the line per game. With playoff intensity, Wade is going to go all out and he has a much better chance of beating Boston than Atlanta, who the Heat almost beat thanks to Wade’s heroics. Allen has had a down year and throughout the season there were rumors that Boston was looking to deal Allen and his huge expiring contract. Boston doesn’t win against Chicago without Ray’s outside shooting and if he doesn’t make Wade work hard on the ball defensively, Boston is in trouble.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce vs Quentin Richardson
Pierce and Richardson are two of the best three-point shooters in the league, with PP hitting 41% of his three’s (12th in the league) and Q-Rich knocking down 40% of his looks (23rd), though Richardson has taken about 100 more shots from deep. Pierce will most likely battle with Wade for the entire series when it comes to getting to the foul line. Though he is not even close to Wade athletically and isn’t as explosive at the rim, Pierce is crafty with his body and always puts himself in position to get to the line. If he hits his shots from long range and gets to line 75% of the amount that Wade does, Boston has a chance, but he’s had some bad performances this year. Richardson should get some good pub for his defense on Pierce in this series because he is one of the main reasons Miami is a lock down defensive club.
Power Forward: Kevin Garnett vs Michael Beasley
I’m not sure how many curse words will be exchanged between two of the craziest people in the NBA. Beasley will probably have a putback slam over KG at some point in this series and that will make Garnett unhappy, which should make for some great television. Beasley started off the season looking like he had made some improvements on and off the court after some personal happenings that made him reflect on his life. But then, whether for better or worse, Beasley became overshadowed by Wade’s dominance and he started to fade. Garnett is having one of the worst years of his career with all of his numbers being near career lows. Tough to say who has the advantage here. Both play outside but at this point, Beasley is better at getting to the basket. Plus, Garnett’s patented jumper hasn’t been falling of late.
Center: Kendrick Perkins vs Jermaine O’Neal
Offensively, O’Neal will pull Perkins away from the basket but on the boards, Perkins should have the big advantage. Perkins will have to leave the paint in order to check J-O, which should open up the lane for one of the best attackers in the rim in the business. If Perkins decides to lay off O’Neal and allow him to take that 15-18 foot jumpshot, then Jermaine is going to have a heck of a series.
Bench: Nate Robinson, Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Tony Allen vs Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, Joel Anthony, and Daequan Cook
With the way Robinson and Wallace have been playing of late, it’s very tempting to say Miami has the better rotation despite they apparent lack of talent. Udonis Haslem might be the best reserve for either team and he’s having on of the best seasons of his career. If Beasley struggles, Haslem should get 28-32 minutes a game. He’s averaged 10 points on 48% shooting with eight rebounds a game this season and he is used to performing in the post-season and comes up big late in games. If Daequan Cook hits some of his shots in this series, the Celtics bench is going to be in trouble.
Dwyane Wade in the playoffs is an entirely different beast and there are so many things that he is playing for right now. He doesn’t have to prove himself to get a max contract but he wants to show the other free agents like LeBron and Bosh that playing alongside him would be beneficial to them. Plus, this whole season he’s gone under the radar as Kevin Durant has stolen his Thunder (no pun intended, even though I capitalized Thunder) and the Heat have been getting thrown under the bus for most of the year. Wade is motivated and nobody on the C’s can come close to stopping him. He’s going to go off in this series and he’s going to put himself back on the map as a top three player in this league.
For Boston, this might be the final straw. The Big Three is getting older and older and there are so many chemistry issues with this team that it isn’t funny. Doc Rivers is getting exposed as a bad coach more and more every game as the world starts to notice that this team plays more off of their assistant coaches than Rivers. With a loss in this series, I’d expect Rivers to go and the C’s brass to start building around Rondo/Perkins.
Pick: Miami in six games. Just feels like it. Wade’s a monster.