Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
1. Paul Pierce is the antidote to LeBron James
Defending LeBron is never a one-on-one ordeal, let’s get that out of the way. But if LeBron wants to get to the NBA Finals, he may have to plow through three of the best wing defenders in the NBA in Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce and Luol Deng. Iguodala did an admirable job defending LeBron, but Pierce may have his number.
According to Newmann and Oliver, Pierce checked LeBron 69 percent of the time, with Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Marquis Daniels (no longer with the team) filling in the rest. But against Pierce, LeBron shot just 43 percent from the field and his efficiency plummeted to depths rarely seen from him. In fact, LeBron scored 75 points per 100 possessions with Pierce covering him, down from his 93 points per 100 possessions when guarded by all other Celtics defenders.
That’s a huge difference, and considering how often the ball is in LeBron’s hands, it's imperative for the Celtics that Pierce to avoid foul trouble.
Amazing research. Those numbers are based on 277 possessions in which LeBron was on the floor vs Boston this season.
I'm confident Pierce will be able to replicate those numbers. But how will Jeff Green perform? I'm already biting my nails…
You can forget the Rondo experiment. While we all remember Rondo pestering Lebron like a mosquito, the research shows James scored at nearly twice the rate of Pierce.
On Page 2, the ESPN expert picks for the series.
For the mathematically challenged or lazy, that's 7 to 5 in favor of the Heat. I was expecting more of a discrepancy.
The most telling prediction – Heat beat reporter Brian Windhorst. He knows Miami better than anybody on that list.
I'm starting to think John Hollinger has a personal vendetta against Boston. Maybe KG gave him a wedgie…
Without revealing too much of our soon-to-be-released series preview, I can tell you 6 is a popular number. Give us your prediction in our new poll (right sidebar).
Related links: Herald – Can the Celtics beat Heat?
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Importance of starters | Inside Hollinger's playoff surprises | Globe – Green's turn has come | It's all with the starters | Herald – Never too soon for Celtics/Heat | Smooth Cs lie ahead | Nothing to learn from last dance | CSNNE – Celts/Heat position by position |