When the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat meet Tuesday, it will be a whole new level of intensity. It will be game one of the conference finals. On the Celtics side, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum are playing outstanding. They’re coming off a game seven win against the defending champion Toronto Raptors. For the Heat, it’s been a balanced attack with a healthy mix of veterans and young players. They eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks in five games and have been resting since September 8th. Now that the stage is set, this is the Heat vs Celtics series preview.
Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics Series Preview
Heat Will Need To Limit Celtics Star Power
To begin the series preview, we need to talk about the stars. Undoubtedly, the Celtics have a leg up on the Heat in terms of star power. Besides the 22 and 23-year-olds Tatum and Brown, the Celtics have four-time all-star Kemba Walker and a bubble breakout star in Smart. Smart was named to the all-defensive first team this year and has been a much improved three-point shooter in the playoffs. He was arguably the teams’ second-best player in the Raptors series and is what’s making them favorites over the Heat in the eyes of some. After all of that, the team still has Gordon Hayward who head coach Brad Stevens says “will play eventually”.
The Heat aren’t going to be able to contain all that offense. Instead, they’ll have to try and limit it. The Raptors did an exceptional job at disrupting Walker in their series, but couldn’t contain Tatum. The Raptors used a zone defense to disrupt Walker, and the Heat are a team that plays a lot of zones. The trio of Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Andre Iguodala is as good of a trio you can ask for to defend the stars of Boston. One of the biggest keys for the Celtics is going to be the playmaking of Tatum. In the last two games against the Raptors, Tatum’s assist totals were nine and seven. Erik Spoelstra will try and make his life tough with double teams. If Tatum can keep finding the open man and they can make their shots, the Heat might have better luck switching to man.
Heat Will Rely Heavily On The Three Ball
While the Celtics have a handful of stars, the Heat have a handful of players who take turns being the leading scorer playing team-ball. From all-stars, Butler and Adebayo, to rookie Tyler Herro, the Heat have a lot of talent in their own right. The number one thing the Heat will rely on the most is three-point shooting. After all, they finished second in the league in three-point shooting percentage. Jae Crowder, Herro, and Butler have all shot above 40 percent in the playoffs so far. The Heat is also an incredibly unselfish team who rack up a ton of assists. They’re fourth in the playoffs in assists per game and don’t shy from making the extra pass to get the best shot possible.
The Celtics are well prepared for the matchup defensively. In the regular season, they allowed the second-fewest points per game in the NBA. Also, through two rounds in the postseason, the Celtics are holding their opponents to 30 percent shooting from three. They’re able to switch on screens a bit more effectively than the Heat and have the length to snatch some steals. Daniel Theis and Robert Williams will have a lot of expectations matching up with Adebayo.
Being Able To Create Their Own Shot Will Be Critical
Although the Heat is a team that excels at ball movement, they’ll need to create their own shots as well. Against a defense as good as the Celtics, players like Goran Dragic, Herro, Butler, and Kendrick Nunn will have to create for themselves. Dragic has made a career out of making his own offense off the dribble, while Butler and Herro are the next-best options for the job. Nunn has had a miserable playoff run, only averaging 13 minutes in six games, and will need to step up. For the Celtics, Walker, Tatum, and Hayward can all create for themselves with ease. And they’re not just good at it, they’re three of the best you can get. Being able to score in a variety of ways can be what decides the series.
The Future Of The Eastern Conference Has Arrived
Regardless of this series preview and who comes away with the win, the future of the eastern conference has arrived. The Celtics have a core that will keep them in contention status for the next five or so years. Their stars are only going to get better the more experience they get. And the team should only improve going forward as the players get more chemistry playing together. As for the Heat, they’ve found all-stars for years to come in Herro and Adebayo. Butler will be under contract for the next two years before deciding on a third-year player option. Regardless of whether Miami forms a superteam in free agency or not, they’ll be big players once again in 2021.
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