|(Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)|
Can LeBron and the Heat defeat the former champions of the East, the Boston Celtics?
When LeBron James announced he was taking his talents to South Beach, he was serious about contending to win multiple titles. Although the Heat got off to a cold start, compared to their expectations, they finished the season hot, winning eight out of their last ten games. Everyone knew their offense would be explosive, but what people didn't realize is how good Miami's defense has been.
Miami ranks in the top six in points allowed as well as top ten in rebounding. They match up well against almost every team in the NBA, having two very skilled guards, and a big man down low to guard the paint.
After finishing the season 58-24, the Heat were given the two seed in the playoffs. Their opponents would be the young and rising Philadelphia 76'ers. Like many people expected though, Miami's talent, experience, and determination was too much for the Sixers. After a five game series with the Sixers, the Heat moved on to their next opponent, the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics and Heat have a lot in common. Both are top teams in the NBA with a "big three". Many people actually compare the 2010-2011 Heat, to the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics, who ended up defeating the Lakers to win the NBA Championship. The Celtics advanced to the semi's of the Eastern Conference after sweeping the Knicks.
So far, the Heat have had no trouble with the Celtics. In both games, the Heat have taken early leads, and never looked back.
In Game One, it was Dwayne Wade, Miami's original leader, who led the Heat over the Celtics. Wade contributed 38 points as five assists, three steals, and two blocks.
When Boston was making a comeback though late in the fourth quarter, Paul Pierce, Boston's original leader, was ejected from the game on a controversial play. Pierce appeared to be setting a screen on a Heat defender. Although he did extend his elbow and committed an offensive foul, it definitely wasn't severe enough to be a ejection.
Despite some late three's by Ray Allen, the Miami Heat would go on to take Game One.
In Game Two, a different player stepped up for Miami. It was LeBron James, the past MVP winner of the last two years, who stepped up for the Heat. James scored 35 points and also grabbed seven rebounds.
Again like in Game One, the Celtics did make a late run, only to be matched by Miami. The Heat had a 14-0 run late in Game Two that iced the game.
Heading back to Boston down 0-2, are the Celtics necessarily screwed?
The Celtics are one of the best teams in the NBA, and an even better team at home. The Celtics are 92-31 at home in the last three years.
Also, the Celtics are an experienced enough team to know how to play well when the team is in trouble. Yes, they know they are down 0-2, but then again all they have to do is match the Heat. The Heat won their two games at home, but now the Celtics can easily match them.
One player on the Celtics who definitely needs to step up is Kevin Garnett. A few years ago, Garnett was one of the most feared big men in the NBA. A past winner of the MVP award, Garnett used to put up 25 points and 14 rebounds in Minnesota.
In the past two games, Garnett has only scored six points, and 16 points respectively. Also he has only been averaging seven rebounds per game.
So why have Garnett's stats and performance been so low?
Chris Bosh is the answer to that question.
Bosh took a lot of Heat (no pun intended), early in the season for not playing like the all-star everyone expected him to be. What many people don't realize though is that Bosh ended the season averaging close to 19 points a game, and handling eight rebounds per game.
Now in the playoffs, though, Bosh has stepped up his game even more. Bosh is averaging a double double, scoring 18 points per game and grabbing 10 rebounds. With James and Wade providing the scoring, Bosh's main job is to get rebounds, and stop the opposing team's big man. He has done a phenomenal job with both so far.
If the Celtics want to make this a series, they have to improve their play down low. Shaq is injured, and Perkins was traded, but with the size they have available, they should be doing better. Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal need to do a better job of scoring, rebounding, and stopping the Miami Heat.
As for the Heat, kudos on jumping out to a 2-0 lead but it isn't even close to being over. The Celtics will not be the team to lose a series on their home court. Even if Miami advances to the next round, they still will have to play a tough opponent. Whether it's MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls or Joe Johnson and his Hawks, the Heat still have a ways to go before they can be crowned the next champion of the NBA.