NBA Preview: Eastern Conference Finals, Heat vs. Celtics

Daniel Romero-Salas
A Rappler breakdown of the Eastern Conference finals.

MANILA, Philippines — And then there were 4.

With only the top two teams from both conferences left standing, the Western and Eastern Conference finals are about to take off and as always, Rappler breaks down the match-ups and gives you a comprehensive take on what to expect.

Here’s all you need to know about the Eastern Conference finals between the talent-rich Miami Heat, and the skilled Boston Celtics.

Click here for the Western Conference finals preview between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.

MIAMI HEAT vs. BOSTON CELTICS

Season series: 3-1 Boston

The Miami Heat meet the Boston Celtics in the Easter Conference Finals. While the Heat have largely been untested, the Celtics have only 2 days between their grueling game 7 victory and game 1 in Miami. The Heat won 4-1 in last year’s playoffs but Celtics fans will be quick to point out that Rajon Rondo dislocated his shoulder and the series was never the same. 

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo is coming off an impressive triple double in game 7 of the second round and will be facing Mario Chalmers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Other than Chalmers, only rookie Norris Cole is a point guard and both will struggle containing the Celtics point guard. Rondo has always had problems with turnovers and this postseason is no different with 3.75 a game. Miami thrives on creating turnovers and jumping passing lanes. Both Lebron James and Dwyane Wade average over 2 steals a game and usually end up with fast break dunks. 

Rappler says: Advantage Celtics

Shooting Guard: In the first three games of the Indiana series Dwyane Wade was only shooting 28.87% from the field. After a much publicized argument with Coach Erik Spoelstra, Wade was unstoppable in the next 3 games and shot 61.1%. If Wade continues playing this way Ray Allen and the Celtics will be down early. Allen will start but he is only shooting 26.9 percent from 3 point land. Allen may not get much time if he cannot make Wade pay on the defensive end with his shooting, Mickael Pietrus or Marquis Daniels will take turns on Wade. Neither inspires much confidence at this point. 

Rappler says: Advantage Heat 

Small Forward: Lebron James faces a familiar foe in Paul Pierce. It was only last year that James was able to defeat the Celtics on the way to the finals and he will be looking to take advantage of Pierce’s sprained knee. James has continued his MVP caliber play scoring more than 20 points in every game but 1 this post season. 

Rappler says: Advantage Heat

Power Forward: Once Chris Bosh got injured, Shane Battier filled in admirably and played great defense on David West. Battier is a natural small forward but is strong enough to defend power forwards. West and Brandon Bass are similar players. Both take most of their shots in the 16-23 feet range and are most lethal in pick and pop situations. Battier had success making West put the ball on the floor and funneling him towards the shot blockers like Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony. If Battier can play Bass the same way he can nullify an important option for the Celtics already weak offense.  

Rappler says: Advantage Even

Center: Kevin Garnett continues his renaissance at the center position and will be guarded by the defensive trio of Ronny Turiaf, Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem. Each one has the quickness to guard Garnett on the perimeter but all are undersized and will have trouble contesting Garnett’s preferred mid range jump shot.  

Rappler says: Advantage Celtics

Bench: Both benches are very thin. Avery Bradley and Chris Bosh’s injuries have shortened rotations and the only guys averaging more than 10 minutes a game are Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Norris Cole, Mickael Pietrus and Ryan Hollins. Mike Miller is the highest scorer of the bunch at 5.3 points per game.   

Rappler says: Advantage Even

The Celtics have historically fared well against Lebron and will look to steal some games here and there but with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen injured; James and Wade will eventually triumph. The Heat may very well end the Boston big 3 era. 

Rappler says: Miami in 6

– Rappler.com

Daniel Romero-Salas is a lifelong NBA fan with an inclination to statistical analysis of the game. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and strives to bring a refreshing take on one of the most popular leagues in the world. Follow him on Twitter: @danromerosalas

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