Celtics (4th seed, 50-32) vs Heat (5th seed, 47-35)
Game 1 at Boston – Saturday, April 17, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 2 at Boston – Tuesday, April 20, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3 at Miami – Friday, April 23, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4 at Miami – Sunday, April 25, 1 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5* at Boston – Tuesday, April 27, TBD (TBD)
Game 6* at Miami – Thursday, April 29, TBD (TBD)
Game 7* at Boston – Saturday, May 1, TBD (TNT)
Bos: Pierce – 18.3 Heat: Dwyane Wade -
Bos: Perkins – 7.6
Heat: Udonis Haslem – 10.1
Bos: Rondo – 9.8 Heat: Wade - 6.5
Who'll go off
Chuck: Rajon Rondo & Paul Pierce. I love the individual match-ups here (Rondo vs Carlos Arroyo, Pierce vs Quentin Richardson). If Rondo and Pierce can get to the hoop consistently, Miami may be forced to play more zone which could lead to open looks (see below).
John: Gotta go with Rondo. In 3 games against the Heat this year, Rondo averaged 20 points 11 assists and 4 boards. He'll step up again. Don't be surprised to see Ray get hot either, once guys collapse on Rondo, he'll find Ray open a lot from the outside.
Who needs to be stopped
Chuck: Michael Beasley and Jermaine O'Neal. Like I've said all year with regards to superstars, the Celtics should be good enough to withstand a 35-40 point outburst by D-Wade. Defensively, the Celtics need to limit the damage inflicted by Miami's second tier, guys like Beasley and O'Neal. Hold them to their season averages, and the Celtics should prevail.
John: Agreeing with Chuck again on Beasley. He averaged 12 points per game in the 3 matchups against Boston. Dwyane Wade, however, dropped 27, 44, and 30 and the Heat still lost all 3 times. Don't worry TOO much about him… so long as the supporting cast can be kept in check
The C's will lose if
Chuck: they can't find the stroke from beyond the arc. Miami plays a lot of zone defense which, if the Celtics move the ball, could result in some open looks. The drawback – Sheed might be taking a lot of those shots.
John: The Celtics don't rebound. A lot of the Celtics struggles this season stemmed from one thing: giving up offensive rebounds. The Heat will miss shots, but if the Celtics can limit them to one shot and get out on the break, they'll be putting games away early
Miscellany: Miami finished second in the league in opponents PPG (94.2) and opponents FG% (43.9%). The Celtics were 5th (95.6) and 10th (45.1%) respectively. While the Celtics are criticized for their high turnover rate (14.9 per game), they allowed only 13.8 points per game off turnovers, second best in the NBA.
Chuck: Celtics win series, 4-2
John: I so want to say 5 games, but I agree… C's 4-2.