With the way things have shaped up this off-season, many Celtic fans are salivating at the thought of a Celtics vs. Lakers Part 3 come next June. With the lead battle cries coming from Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge and the majority of the players, this season will be played with a vengeance. What a perfect story it would be. Round three, with each team having defeated the other in their previous two Finals matchups. While it seems evident that many of us have focused our collective desire of revenge towards Malibu Beach, or Manhattan Beach, it appears that some folks down in Miami feel that the Celtics are clearly gazing in the direction of South Beach.
Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel recently wrote the following:
The given in the NBA is that to be the champion you have to be built to beat the champion. Yet the Boston Celtics' focus this offseason hardly has been on the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, Celtics coach Doc Rivers recently went on John Thompson's radio show in Washington and said, "They still have not beaten our starting five. Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring." The reference, of course, was losing center Kendrick Perkins for the decisive Game 7 loss to the Lakers in last June's NBA Finals, after defeating the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals.
No, Boston's focus this offseason has been somewhat closer to home, namely in its own conference. If Pat Riley's revamped Miami Heat has any flaws, the perception is they are twin Achilles heels at center and point guard. So the Celtics made a big splash with the additions of Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal at center, and with last week's gambit on Delonte West for their backcourt. It can be argued Boston now has three centers that are better than any of the Heat's quartet of Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgaukskas, Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman.
Similarly, Rajon Rondo and West represent a far more potent tag team at point guard than Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo. (We'll let you debate the merits of Nate Robinson vs. Eddie House, but the Celtics made it clear at last season's trading deadline where they stood on that one.) Of course, the crux of Heat vs. Celtics will come down to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh vs. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
Interesting. Apparently the fine folks in Miami didn't watch the NBA Finals after the Celtics sent Wade and the Heat home for the summer. If they had, they would have noticed that in each of their four losses in the Finals, the Lakers (mainly Pau Gasol) DESTROYED the C's on the glass. Collectively, the Lakers bigs owned the Celtics in the four losses.
Doc Rivers also pulled a KC Jones and rode his starters, including Rondo, into the ground by playing them too many minutes. Danny Ainge and the Celtics organization have clearly targeted their big man issues (especially with Kendrick Perkins being out until at least February) and the lack of depth on the bench.
FInally, this isn't even a debate. Miami absolutely will have the two best players when these two Eastern Conference powers meet on the court. But Boston's depth as well as overall talent at point guard and center is light years ahead of Miami.