They meet again. The series between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat ensues tonight at 8:30 on ESPN. The rivalry between these two teams, or should I say between LeBron and the Celtics, has been a tough one.
Seemingly similar stories have taken very different paths.
The Celtics are the original Big Three. Four years ago, the Boston Celtics started the trend of so called “super teams” when they added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a team that already had Paul Pierce. While they did create a “superteam”, they weren’t chastised for it. In fact, Danny Ainge was praised for his efforts in turning a perennial bottom dweller into an NBA champion in just a couple of seasons. It wasn’t necessarily a choice for Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce didn’t recruit his friends to come to Boston. It was simply a good move from a good front office. Little did the Celtics know that their Big Three was going to turn into a BIg Four. Little Rajon Rondo out of Kentucky, deemed one of the weak points on an extremely strong Celtics team, turned into one of the most dynamic point guards in the entire league, and is the centerpiece of this Celtics team. The Celtics, in the year after the Big Three was assembled, won an NBA Championship, the first in Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett’s career. They didn’t proclaim it before the season started. They simply had a goal, and accomplished it. They put their heads down, accepted the target on their backs, and made history. It was simple, humble, and the way it should be done. The Celtics have been back to the Finals since that championship, but haven’t gotten back to the promise land and won an NBA Finals.
As for the Miami Heat, well, we all know their story. Bosh joins Dwyane Wade in Miami, LeBron has the Decision, the Championship Parade happens before they play a single game, LeBron proclaims that the Heat will win “ not one, not two… not seven” championships, and the Heat lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. This season, LeBron won the MVP and the Miami Heat are on the brink of making it to their second straight NBA Finals. For the Heat, unlike the Celtics, their Big Three has diminished, if only momentarily. Chris Bosh has been out since the Heat’s opening series, leaving the Big Two to get to the Championship by themselves.
So that’s the matchup. The Big Four versus the Big Two. Two unbelievably similar, yet different teams matching up in what could be the biggest matchup of the year thus far.
In my predictions article from a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t give a clear winner of this series. It was unclear to me whether or not Chris Bosh was going to play in this series due to his abdominal strain, (if the Heat lose, by the way, I can’t wait for that excuse).
This is my attempt to pick a winner.
When you look at the matchup, their are quite a few things that stand out. The Heat have no bench whatsoever. The Celtics are almost in the Nursing Home. The Heat have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in the prime of their careers playing possibly their best basketball ever. The Celtics rely on Rondo to help their aging superstars produce. The Heat don’t have much size, but the Celtics have Ryan Hollins. The Celtics rely on their defense heavily, while the Heat’s defense has seen some struggles lately.
I don’t think you could pick a more evenly matched series.
What it’s going to come down to is health. Will Bosh be healthy? If so, I think the Heat will take this series. Will Pierce, Garnett, and Ray Allen be healthy enough to play every game of the series? If so, I think the Celtics will take the series.
So I failed again. I can’t pick a winner. It’s too tough to call.
LeBron and Wade could go off again and this series could be over in 5 games. LeBron and Wade could cool down and this series could be over in 6 games in favor of the Celtics. Bosh could come back, and the healthy Heat could take it in 5. Bosh could stay out, and the healthy Celtics could take it in 6. Allen and Garnett could miss a game or two, the game or two they needed to win, and the Heat could take it in 7.
I just don’t know. Their are too many variables to make a hypothesis as to who is going to win this series. All I know is, this series is going to be one for the ages. If the Miami Heat lose, after beating the Celtics last year, I have a feeling things are going to be changing in Miami. If the Celtics lose, I feel as if the Big Four will be parting ways either into retirement or into greener pastures. Either way, this series is going to change things in the NBA.
The two “superteams” of the NBA will be matching up this week, and no matter the results, only one will ever be seen looking like this again.
P.S. The fact of the matter is, no matter who wins this series, the San Antonio Spurs are going to win it all. They are so old that their alzheimer’s is at the point where they’ve forgotten how to lose.
Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove