The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will make history this morning, starting at 00:30 hours, at the start of
an Eastern Conference Finals tie that for the first time since 1984 it has neither the first nor the second classified
regular season battling to make it to the NBA Finals.
The confrontation between the third and fifth-placed in the eventful US league campaign will be the fourth between the two teams in a playoffs. Miami leads 2-1 against Boston, and their last direct confrontation was in the East End 2012 when the Heat won the first title of the era ‘big three’ con LeBron, Wade, Bosh and company.
In fact, the rivalry between the two franchises was exclusively forged in that era, since they crossed their paths three times in a row between 2010 and 2012. This season, the Celtics have won two of their three games against the Heat, who also beat Massachusetts in a game in which they did not play. Jimmy Butler, the reason they have come so far in these playoffs.
“We don’t care about statistics or fame, we don’t care about any of that”, Butler says in the press video conference from the bubble. “The only thing that matters to us is winning the championship, and I assure you that this is why we are playing the type of basketball that we play now ”.
The Heat have specialized in beating their opponents by sheer force: physical and mental. Right now they are the third best defensive team in the playoffs, but the Celtics are precisely the best in that section. The defense, without a doubt, will be key in the future of the tie. Another determining factor may be experience.
Rhythm: 96.0 (13)
Offensive rating: 110.2 (7)
Rating defensivo: 101.9 (1)
Rating neto: +8.3 (2)
Rhythm: 97.7 (12)
Offensive rating: 112.9 (4)
Rating defensivo: 105.4 (4)
Rating neto: +7.4 (3)
The Celtics, even though they are a very young team, have a lot of accumulated experience in the Conference Finals, in which they have participated in three of the last four seasons. Jaylen Brown, at 23, has participated in all of them; Jayson Tatum, at 22, will add his second after marveling when he first participated in them in his rookie season.
“They’ve been on this stage and they’ve been a big part of it. They are young in all but playoff experience statistics. They have a lot, ”Brad Stevens values their young duo. “We have three 30-year-old guys, so yesWe are practically a varsity team. “
The freshness of the Celtics has its answer in the ranks of Miami, which caught a pearl in Bam adebayo, 22, in the 2017 Draft and has repeated a feat in the offices with Tyler Herro, key for the Heat with only 20 years. The Florida team bases their success on a collective game that they lead Butler y Dragic but it reaches up to the sixth man in the rotation, Duncan Robinson. They are six players above the double digits.
In Boston, that number drops to five due to the notable impact of the Tatum-Brown-Walker triad, although Daniel Theis has been out in the series against the Raptors. In the present playoffs, Marcus Smart and Tyler Herro have emerged as the X factor of their respective teams, although the more than probable return of Gordon Hayward at some point in the tie.
– Jimmy Butler: 21.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists with a 47.7% success rate in the playoffs
– Tyler Herro: 14.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists with a 41.3% success rate in the playoffs
– Jayson Tatum: 25.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists with a 44.7% success rate in the playoffs
– Kemba Walker: 19.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists with a 45.1% success rate in the playoffs
“I think he will return, but I don’t know when”Stevens commented in the preview about the bodyguard’s physical condition. His presence, if it comes close to his form of the season, can add another argument to the Celtics’ attack. It so happens that a difference of 10.5 points for every 100 possessions explains very well the equality that may exist in the tie:
The Heat scored 10.5 more points per 100 possessions (113) against the Bucks, the league’s best defense in the regular season (102.5); For their part, the Celtics gave the Raptors 10.5 fewer points per 100 possessions (100.3) than the Canadians’ numbers in the regular season (110.8).
There are countless variables to take into account, but one of those that can tip the balance is rest. Miami has had a whole week without games, and the pace of the NBA bubble has so far been dizzying. Fatigue can also play a role in a tie that is expected to be very close. The Heat’s streak in these playoffs, an 8-1 that beats the rest of rivals left alive, speaks for itself.
It will be a tie in which whoever fights hardest will win, and both the Celtics and Heat have plenty of arguments in this department.