Celtics and Heat meet in 2020 rematch

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The reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks have been dethroned by the Boston Celts and the Miami Heat he had no trouble taking Game 6 to clinch their semifinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers, meaning Boston and Miami will meet for a rematch of the 2020 NBA bubble Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat look to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the 10th anniversary of the NBA Championship LeBron James brought home when he brought his talents to South Beach to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They also return to the Conference Finals for the second time in three years.

As for Boston, they want to get out of the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2010, when they fell in Game 7 to their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. But if any Celtics team seems ready to do it, it’s Ime Udoka’s team.

Series of the season: 2-1 Boston

fast tape (after Round 2)

Heat: 4-2 win over Philadelphia | Offense No. 5 | Defense #2 | Net Rating #1

celts: 4-3 win over Milwaukee | Offense No. 8 | Defense #3 | No. 2 net rating

futures bets

To win series: MIA +145, BOS -175 (Courtesy of FanDuel at the time of publication)

To win the championship: MIA: +430, BOS: +210 (Courtesy of FanDuel at the time of publication)

heat from 5: Bam Adebayo, PJ Tucker, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Jimmy Butler

heat bank: Kyle Lowry (GTD), Victor Oladipo, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon, Udonis Haslem, Haywood Highsmith, Markieff Morris, Omer Yurtseven

Celtics starting 5: Marcus Smart (GTD), Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Robert Williams (GTD)

Celtics Bench: Derrick White, Grant Williams, Daniel Theis, Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Sam Hauser (Inj.), Luke Kornet, Juwan Morgan, Malik Fitts

heat pulse

Needless to say, Jimmy Butler has been running Miami since his arrival from Philly, when the 76ers apparently drafted Tobias Harris over him, and since then, his team has had far more postseason success in the Eastern Conference than Harris and company. .

Averaging 28.7 points per game in the playoffs on 52.5 percent shooting, it’s safe to say Butler is the heart of the Heat, controlling the offense and finding the rim when needed. Not only is he in complete control, averaging just 1.7 turnovers, but he’s also not afraid to be physical at the net.

Butler had a 40-point night in Game 4 against the 76ers, and despite the loss, he shot 65 percent on 13-of-20 shooting and will be a threat to the Celtics’ defense, especially since, if they go the route From trying to put two men on Butler, Miami has a variety of starters who can also score with ease.

Celtics Pulse

Despite being home to one of the best defenses in the league, if not the best, the true pulse of the Celtics is their depth. Players on the bench can play like the starting five, as Grant Williams demonstrated when he had 27 points as a starter in Game 7 to beat Milwaukee.

Even Al Horford, at 35, put up back-to-back 20-plus-point games in Game 3 and 4 against Milwaukee, putting up 30 points and eight rebounds in Game 4 after posting three straight double-doubles in the first three games. from the series

There will be questions around injury dictating whether Marcus Smart won’t be a factor in the series, but with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown you still have Derrick White, Payton Pritchard and Daniel Theis, who have held twice as long. Digit performances on offense while filling holes on defense that make Boston a threat to play against.

What is at stake for Miami

Miami has a real chance to prove they are more than Butler in this series as they have several players who can play on both sides of the ball and will present a different challenge to the Celtics than Milwaukee.

Adebayo is the obvious first choice, averaging 23.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the first two games of the 76ers series with Joel Embiid out. While his numbers dropped with Embiid back, the Celtics don’t have a player of Embiid’s caliber in the paint to stop Adebayo and will have to find ways to shut him out.

The Heat’s early perimeter rotation can also be lethal, and if they get Lowry back mid-series like they hope, they’re adding another player with elite vision on the floor who’s not only a scoring threat, but will draw defenders. and it will pass. the ball to an open shot for easy baskets, as the Celtics rely heavily on changeup defense.

What’s at stake for Boston

The Celtics can get revenge for their 2020 season with a win over the Heat, with plenty of familiar faces in Butler, Adebayo and Herro waiting for the guys in green. Since that series, Miami has only leveled up by adding the likes of Strus, Lowry and Oladipo as well.

Boston has consistently fallen into the “almost” pattern: On the outside, it looks like a team that could take on the best, but something was always missing. They desperately needed a center, and they got their wishes and more with Rob Williams. They needed defense, and led by Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, the entire team was able to play hard against Milwaukee in a blowout win in Game 7.

Now the Celtics face another insanely deep team, with star power at all five positions as well as a deep bench rotation that builds heat, no pun intended, for 48 minutes every night that will make the defense of Boston works at its best.

Key stat for Miami

Max Strus leads the league in defensive rating, net rating and is in the top 10 in the league in offensive rating for the Heat, making him one of their most dangerous shooting guards in the playoffs, which is a huge nod for a guy who was not drafted and played. in the G League.

He doesn’t get the same traction as Butler, Lowry or Herro on the Heat, but he came alive in Game 5 and 6 for Miami, posting back-to-back double-doubles with 19 points and 10 rebounds in Game 5 and did better with 20 points and 11 rebounds in a series-clinching victory in Game 6.

Obviously, the stat is partially skewed due to Strus’ playing time compared to others in Miami, but if the last two games have shown anything, it’s that he’s ready to roll with the big dogs when it comes to conference basketball. East.

Key stat for Boston

The Celtics are killers from 3-point range and have made 53 shots from beyond the arc of Milwaukee in their seven games. Not only was the differential the largest in a playoff series in NBA history, but the 110 3-pointers the Celtics made in total tied for third in any playoff series.

Tatum shot 55.6 percent from 3 in Game 7 against Milwaukee and 46.7 percent in Game 6, while Brown shot more than 40 percent from 3 for the last four games of the series, and even he shot 60 percent for 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the arc in Game 2.

Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler, left, and Duncan Robinson (55) defend as Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) handles the ball during the first half of a Miami Heat playoff basketball game NBA conference finals, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

pairing to watch

Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum are the obvious answers, and their star power has been a joy to watch in the playoffs. As scoring machines capable of contributing a third of their team’s points each night, both have been key to the success of their respective clubs during their run through the playoffs.

Add to that the level of defense they can both play, on teams that are already solid defensively, and the passing accuracy they both bring to the floor, and you have two stars who are incredibly complete. It’s a safe bet that both will make a difference for their respective teams in the Eastern Conference Finals, which can be detrimental if one has an off night.

One more matchup to watch will be Rob Williams vs. Bam Adebayo, as the last time the two teams met it was a combination of Theis and Grant Williams taking over for Adebayo. Williams is a much better rim protector and will have a better chance of blocking Adebayo.

Heat wins if…

The Heat need to shut down Boston from the 3-point line. The Celtics aren’t a team you can leave wide open on the arc hoping their shots don’t fall because they don’t want to face Adebayo in the paint.

Even just shutting down Tatum and Brown isn’t enough, as Smart, Pritchard and Williams can be threesome’s money and aren’t afraid to take shots from the arc, either. Giving up an extra point on a shot when the tough defense can at least try to force the Celtics to push the rim and get physical is not an option for Miami if they want to win.

The Celtics win if…

They can take down Jimmy Butler, plain and simple. The Celtics struggled to shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo, as any team would, but the series was pushed to Game 7 simply because of the Greek Freak’s multiple unstoppable 40+ point performances throughout the series.

The good news for Boston is that Butler doesn’t have the size to be able to attack the rim as well or look for second-chance points, but he sure as hell doesn’t lack the physicality or the drive and will aim to do the same. thing independently. Butler is another player who rarely goes unnoticed, as he scored fewer than 20 points just once in the playoffs on a night when he still managed 15.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler watches the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)

A bold prediction for Miami

Oladipo will make the difference in the series as the Heat need a defensively solid player to handle the Celtics’ perimeter, and Dipo is the man to do it. His injuries have slowed down his minutes, but his 23-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1 showed he still has the It Factor, and the Heat will rely on him to help them close out and win the series since Robinson and iron. he just can’t.

A bold prediction for Boston

Pritchard will be used more from 3-point range to help the Celtics continue to beat opponents from beyond the arc. He led the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 41.2 percent during the regular season, and the Heat have lacked a 3-point defense over their opponents all season. Eyes will be on Tatum and Brown, but Pritchard will be the silent killer from beyond the arc to widen the gap and put the Celtics ahead.

series winner

This will be another series that will be pushed to the limit, but after Boston’s performance in Game 7, there is no doubt they can do it again, as well as having a healthy Williams and Smart increasing their chances against a Heat team that lacks . depth. The Celtics are positioned to take this one, though it won’t be as easy as their first-round sweep.

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