The Boston Celtics take their collective talents, the Green Big-3 and the number 3 seed in the East to South Beach today to begin the best-of-seven, All-Stars-galore Eastern Conference Semifinals against Chris Bosh, D. Wade and 2x reigning league MVP LeBron James and the second-seeded Miami Heat.
This postseason battle of ‘Big-3s’ has it all from legitimate hype and great backstories to a quickly solidifying Atlantic seaboard rivalry. Last year the C’s knocked out Dwyane Wade, aka Flash, and the Heat in round 1 and then bested King James and the Cavs 4 games to 2 in the semis.
The Heat and Celtics met four times this year, with the 17-banner C’s winning three. However, the last time these super-talented squads faced off on April 10th, 1-banner Miami dominated at home 100-77. Boston was only 23-18 on the road this year, while Miami finished 30-11 at home.
Boston held a lead in the standings over Miami for most of the 2010-2011 season. But late in the regular season Miami passed the Celtics and grabbed the 2nd seed. So today’s Game 1 is in south Florida, not in Beantown.
There are several keys to victory for both sides in this series. Ray Allen shot an almost incomprehensible 57 percent from 3-point land in the four regular season games. In the three Boston victories over Miami, fill-the-stat-sheet PG Rajon Rondo had one triple-double plus 16 and 17 dimes respectively in the other pair of W’s. If these backcourt mates can repeat their production the Celts will be tough to dethrone as East Champs.
On the Miami side, the non-All Star members of the ‘Heatles’ must provide enough punch and spark so that Wade, James and Bosh will not have to perform at All-Galaxy clips in order to take the series. And then, there’s the psychological dimension of LeBron and D. Wade embracing the challenge and being able to finally best the Green & White when it truly matters.