(2) Miami Heat vs. (4) Boston Celtics
This is the matchup many people have been waiting for in the Eastern Conference. Although both teams come in with injuries it is still an intriguing matchup. The Miami Heat are without one of their Big 3, Chris Bosh, whose abdominal strain is likely to keep him out for the entire series. Bosh was often thought of as an afterthought throughout this season, but Miami’s struggles on offense have shown that he is more valuable to them than previously thought. Miami did show resilience against the Pacers without Bosh however, taking the Pacers best shot and returning a knockout blow delivered by Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. The Celtics come into the series with injuries of their own as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have been slowed by knee and ankle injuries respectively. The biggest blow to the Celtics however, may have been the loss of Avery Bradley to a shoulder injury. Although Bradley came into the season as an afterthought, he became one of the leagues best perimeter defenders and played extremely well in the absence of Allen. Without Bradley, the task of guarding Dwayne Wade will likely fall to Ray Allen or even Mickael Pietrus off the bench. However, Allen has struggled on defense this postseason because of his ankle injury and Pietrus is no longer the lockdown defender he used to be. When discussing this matchup many people bring up the fact that the Celtics went 3-1 in the regular season against Miami. However, the Celtics went 4-0 against Miami last year in the regular season but Miami beat them in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 5 games. The key for the Celtics in this series will be the play of Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass. Miami lacks the interior defenders to deal with this duo but Bass and Garnett are more of jump shooters than post players at this point in their careers. They will get their shots and if they can knock a good percentage of them down, it will open up things for Allen and Piece. If they are unable to, the Celtics will be in trouble. In the end this series will be decided by the play of Wade and LeBron. If they can continually get to the rim for easy shots and free throws as they did the last three games of the Pacers series, Miami will win. Although Boston does not have the perimeter defenders to lock either of them down, they have terrific team defense that is, at times, impenetrable. However, I believe that the combination of Wade and LeBron will be too much for the Celtics to handle.
My Prediction: Heat in 6