Ranking the Top 10 players in the Celtics-Heat first round series

Feb 11, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) and Miami Heat forward
Feb 11, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) and Miami Heat forward / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
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The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat will face off in the NBA Playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The 64-18 Celtics will seek revenge in the first round against the team that knocked them out in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

Miami suffered a big blow when Jimmy Butler injured his MCL in the Heat's first game of the Play-In tournament. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Butler is set to miss several weeks with the injury. Without Butler matching up against Jayson Tatum, the Celtics should have the two best players on the floor throughout the series. 

It isn’t often that a No. 1 vs. No. 8 first-round matchup offers this much intrigue, but the Celtics/Heat rivalry is impossible to ignore. Despite Butler’s absence, the Heat offer serious talent for a No. 8 seed. They also have one of the best coaches in the NBA with Erik Spoelstra leading the way.

This series will mark the seventh time Boston and Miami have met in the playoffs. Since their first-ever meeting in 2010, the Heat have gone 4-2 against the Celtics. Four of those matchups have come in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Along with Butler, Terry Rozier will miss at least the first two games of the series. The talented point guard has been dealing with a neck injury that has not fully healed yet. With both Butler and Rozier week-to-week, there is a real chance the Heat do not have either player available for the entire series.

Here are the top 10 players in the Celtics-Heat first-round playoff series

No. 1: Jayson Tatum 

There isn’t much to discuss here. Tatum has had an All-NBA First-Team caliber season, and he hasn’t even handled the usage and shot volume he operated with last year. Boston’s franchise player has done a great job of allowing his elite supporting cast to thrive in their individual roles while still maintaining individual brilliance in his own right.

After ranking top five in usage last season, Tatum did not crack the top ten this season. He also dropped from second in field goal attempts per game to ninth. While his scoring average dropped by more than three points per game to 26.9 a night (still good for seventh in the NBA), Tatum averaged a career-high 4.9 assists and shot his best 3-point percentage since the 2020-21 campaign (37.6%). He also had his most efficient season from the field since his rookie year when he only averaged 10.4 shot attempts per game, nailing 47.1% of his shots on 19.3 nightly attempts.

The five-time All-Star will look to avenge a disappointing finish to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. On the very first play of Game 7, Tatum injured his ankle and was hobbled for the remainder of the night. JT will undoubtedly want a taste of revenge when the seventh installment of Heat-Celtics begins.