First off, lets take a moment after seeing one of the more awkward facial expressions coming from Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, and even LeBron James in the background. Well, I guess people like me and you out there, make the same typical expressions when we play ball. That’s the price the athletes pay to constantly being photographed.
Alright, now back to the purpose of the article. With training camp only a few weeks from beginning, its starting to look like every team in the league has figured out their core nucleus to start the season with. So this gives analysts a perfect chance to compare the teams out there by examining their current rosters. Well, in this edition of the site’s team comparisons, I get the privilege to discuss one of the more heated rivalries in professional basketball, the Miami Heat versus the Boston Celtics. The teams have met in the playoffs the last three years and every one of those series were toughly fought by both sides and superstarts showed up huge for their respective teams.
However, the past is set in stone and nothing can be done to change it, so let’s look at the teams pitted against each other position by position. Then after, I examine what would be the result if the two teams were to go against each other in a seven game series with their current rosters.
Rajon Rondo / Keyon Dooling vs. Mario Chalmers / Norris Cole
I’m going to take the road less taken and say that the point guard position is a whole lot more contested than most people would believe it would be. By no means am I putting Mario Chalmers in the level of Rajon Rondo, but I do believe that Mario Chalmers has the caliber to be a viable starting point guard as well as being talented enough to be the fourth best player on the Heat.
However, Rajon Rondo is by far the more talented and effective point guard compared to Chalmers and posed as the biggest problem for the Heatles during the Eastern Conference Finals. If he developed a more consistent jump-shot, Rondo would easily be the best point guard in the league, hands down.
Now to the back-up point position, I do give that edge to Cole over Dooling. Keyon Dooling many, many years ago was a quality player who often could it make it rain from the three-point line. However, Norris Cole has had moments where I he was the Heat’s best player. Cole brings more to the table compared to Dooling. However even with Cole’s superiority over Dooling, Rajon Rondo makes the Celtics one of the most offensively and defensively productive teams in the league something that neither Heat players can do.
Avery Bradley / Courtney Lee / Jason Terry vs. Dwyane Wade / Ray Allen / Mike Miller
This is one of the more intriguing match-ups I’m going to be looking at when they Heat play the Celtics on opening night.
Wade is one of the more explosive weapons in the league. His ability to beat defenders off the dribble is quite extraordinary but could be difficult with Bradley hovering in front of him constantly. Both players are coming off injuries so it will also be interesting to monitor whether their games are back to their peak levels.
Now to the shooting guards coming off the bench: I presume Jason Terry and Ray Allen will be the sixth men for their respective teams. For Terry, this isn’t a shock as he is one of the best sixth men in NBA history. Terry is a sniper from downtown and can bring the Celtics the same assets Ray Allen provided them the best couple of years. Ray Allen, meanwhile, will have to adjust to coming off the bench which could pose as a challenge for Allen. Allen is streaky shooter and maybe the time starting on the bench could pose as a delay to Allen’s immediate impact on the game.
Mike Miller and Courtney Lee are valuable pieces to add each team’s repertoire. Mike Miller is absolutely lethal shooting the three and his all out hustle make him a key member for the Heat rotation when healthy. Just watch game five of the NBA Finals this year where he torched the Thunder and was the talk of the crowd in Miami after the game.
Miller’s only problem is his lingering back issue which could pose as a problem when he would have to face agile guards such as Courtney Lee. Courtney Lee is often remembered for his awesome performances in the Orlando Magic’s Finals run in 2009. Lee is a scoring guard who can provide the Celtics with a scoring punch when there are moments of stagnant ball movement or, if simply, the ball refuses to go through the cylinder.
I give the edge to the Miami Heat for the same reason, why I went with Boston at the point guard position. You simply can not overlook superstars and one of Wade’s caliber makes it hard for any team to match-up an equivalent shooting guard.
Side Note: It looks like Courtney Lee will be the opening-day starter against the Miami Heat, but I’m looking at the Celtics starting Avery Bradley over Lee if the two teams were to meet in the playoffs.
Paul Pierce / Jeff Green vs. LeBron James / Shane Battier / James Jones
Two years ago, I could have made a case for this to be the most equal position match-up. However, I’ve always been a fan of LeBron James and to say that is performance in this year’s playoffs was good would be a complete understatement. He was spectacular. LeBron James is the best player on the planet and if anyone would care to find a reason to argue my previous statement please entertain me with pointless explanations…
He is the best player right now, maybe not in a year, but right now he is. Kevin Durant is very close, but I would need to see an all-defensive team in his resumé for me to agree that he is better than LeBron.
Now to the All-Star Small Forward of the Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce. Pierce is definitely the best scorer on this Celtics team but he would need to step a whole lot more especially during the clutch with Ray Allen gone and Jason Terry probably being on the bench. Pierce is the only player on the Celtics who can score 20+ points a game consistently and for that reason, I expect him to have a resurgent year comparably to Kevin Garnett’s bounce-back year from last season.
Jeff Green is an interesting storyline.
After suffering from a heart ailment, he was forced to sit out all of last season. I’m curious to see how he will perform in the upcoming season especially in the first few games to see whether he will play significant minutes off the bench. Green will be one of the few members on the current roster that Celtics management want to keep in the long run. I hope that he can perform well enough to produce numbers close enough to his Oklahoma City Thunder days and be a fixture of the Celtic’s future.
Shane Battier might get the starting nod for the Heat opening night and maybe he doesn’t qualify in this position by position comparison as a small forward. Throughout his career, Battier as guarded the best wingmen in the game and his defensive prowess has ceased to diminish. He might not be a big offensive threat but he gives the Miami Heat an absolute three-point shooter at the corners of the three-point line. More importantly, he brings leadership to a Heat team who will not have Juwan Howard, “the godfather” of the team last season. To add on, James Jones will be another knock-down shooter for the Miami Heat.
However with the dominating talent of LeBron James, its hard not to give Miami the edge in this position match-up.
Brandon Bass / Jared Sullinger / Chris Wilcox vs. Rashard Lewis / Udonis Haslem
Easily the least star-studded position battle of the group, the power-forwards for these two teams aren’t typically household names.However,the power forward position is one of the most important positions in basketball. Power forwards in the modern game need to be both offensive and defensive players to succeed in the association. For the Celtics I believe they found their answer in a solid power forward.
I love Brandon Bass’s game. You can’t ask for anything more from your starting four. He brings the devastating mid range shooting ability and to add on to that automatic shot, Bass is becoming a much better defender. Brandon Bass learned from both Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers the principles of guarding the better big men in the league and with the excellent team defense of the Celtics, and Bass easily adapted to the defensive culture in Beantown. Bass by all means can make a case for being the most improved player in the league this year and could be a potential all star in years to come.
For the Heat, I believe Haslem will be ahead of Rashard Lewis in the depth chart at power forward simply out of respect and overall impact on the game. By far, I believe Rashard Lewis will be a better scoring threat compared to Haslem but the Heat don’t need that as much as the defense and toughness Haslem brings to the table every possession of every game.
Jared Sullinger is an interesting prospect. I’m an Ohio State Buckeyes fan, so I know a lot about his game. I believe he slipped heavily in the draft and could easily be the biggest steal in the draft with the only real challenger of that title being Perry Jones III of Oklahoma City.
Sullinger might have the greatest basketball intellect in the draft and that is what the Celtics thrive on. The Celtics play a mental game more than any other team in the league with brilliant schemes coming from the sidelines and Doc Rivers. Sullinger is a very good rebounder and with a little more conditioning can be a solid power forward in the future for the Celtics.
I give the Celtics the nod because of the offensive firepower of Brandon Bass.
Kevin Garnett / Jason Collins / Fab Melo vs. Chris Bosh / Joel Anthony / Dexter Pittman
Now, the Heat and Celtics are not starting traditional centers. Both Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh have been traditional power forwards in the league for many years now. With the lack of talent in the center postion, both teams were forced to revert to having their all-star power forwards play at the center position.
Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh are very similar players right now. Garnett will make the hall of fame, while Bosh maybe making a case for getting in the hall of fame. I expect a lot of hate from people, but Bosh could end of being an all star for many years and if the Heat keep winning championships, its hard to ignore the importance of Chris Bosh in the title runs.
Garnett is the better defensive player of the two and very easily might be the important player on his team. He is the general on defense and gives the Celtics their only real offensive presence in the paint. Kevin Garnett also has a patented jump shot which always almost certain to fall in through the cylinder. Chris Bosh is the better offensive player right now simply because of better athleticism. Bosh and Garnett both have excellent mid-range jump shots. Bosh however is much better at going to the basket so that is what really distincts him from Garnett.
The big men coming off the bench are honestly not very good. Essentially look at the power forwards for each team filling in the majority of the minutes as centers when either Bosh or Garnett on the floor. The additional options for center are just extra fouls and floppers (Jason Collins).
Overall, Garnett and Bosh are equals in today’s game.
Doc Rivers vs. Erik Spoelstra
I’m infatuated with the coaching ability of Doc Rivers. Rivers was a great coach in Orlando and has grown to be one of the best coaches in this generation of basketball. To me, he would beat any coach in schematics. The one thing I believe goes against Doc Rivers is his voice after the first five minutes of a game. Other than that he is an amazing coach.For Erik Spoelstra, I really need to see improvement in his rotations. I’m still furious at him for starting Mike Bibby in the Finals over Chalmers. For that reason alone, I just shake my head anytime Mike Bibby hits a three pointer for the Knicks. Spoelstra is one of the best defensive minds in the game but his lack of not playing in the league may be a disadvantage when it comes to managing players. However, I got to admit he has done a great job in keeping the Heat intact when times are rough.
However got to give the nod to experience.
I think this Miami-Boston rivalry can really heat up, no pun intended. It features a lot of storylines including Ray Allen’s return, etc. However if the two teams are to meet in the playoffs probably in the Eastern Conference Finals, it well be toughly fought.
I expect LeBron James to be the biggest star in the series. I expect Rajon Rondo to post triple doubles in a majority of the games played. I expect Paul Pierce to hit a clutch three pointer in the closing seconds of a game. I expect Dwyane Wade to erupt for 40+ points in a game or two in the series. I expect a brutal interior battle between Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett. I expect Doc Rivers and Erik Spoelstra to have the best coached games in their careers. To wrap it up, I anticipate a lot of excitement from the two teams.
However, the one thing that does concern me about not seeing both teams compete at full strength is injuries. The Celtics for the last couple of years have struggled to have everyone healthy and that is what ultimately costed them when it comes to winning a championship. I want to see a titanic playoff series. So, here is what I believe would be a result of a seven game series between the two teams…
Prediction: Heat 4 Celtics 2: Yes, I believe the series won’t go to seven games but I expect every game to be decided to be less than five points. The only reason I give the Heat the game six win is because of the new found closing ability of LeBron James.