The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat face off in the Eastern Conference Finals in what is likely to be a hard-fought series. The Heat are prohibitive favorites to win this series, but the Celtics have five clear cut advantages over the Heat.
If the Celtics are going to make one last trip to the NBA Finals in the "Big-3 Era," they are going to need all of these advantages working in their favor.
Doc Rivers is one of the best coaches in the NBA. He gets his guys motivated to play ball every night and the Celtics are going to need that.
X's and O's-wise he is a much better coach than Erik Spoelstra, which could play a large factor in deciding this series. The Celtics have a ring for a reason, because they are battle tested. It starts with Rivers.
Ray Allen may be hobbled by a bad ankle, but he will still be the best shooter on the court for either team. This guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer for a reason and will prove it once again.
He is the best 3-point shooter in NBA history and gives the Celtics a sizable advantage in that category. The Heat struggled for most of the series against the Pacers with their deep shooting.
It's well-known that Allen has been playing on a bad ankle and I would expect that the Heat will try to exploit that. I still think that Allen finds a way to make plays and ends up winning a game for the Celtics at some point throughout this series.
Rajon Rondo is crucial to the Celtics' success. When he plays well, the Celtics win. In this series, he will have to do more than play well.
It's likely that in order for Boston to win this series, Rondo will have to put up nearly a triple-double per game. He is capable of that, but it won't be easy against the Heat's great defense.
Rondo is a tough basketball and he won't be phased by the daunting challenge of playing the Miami Heat. He will be ready to play and put up big numbers in this series.
The Celtics are a battle-tested team, even more so than the Miami Heat. They have been in every type of situation a team could be in. They have a ring and have been in elimination games. They know how to keep cool when the pressures on, and that will be pivotal in them pulling off this upset.
Chris Bosh's injury is likely to play a role in the series as well. It's unrealistic to ask Lebron James and Dwayne Wade to combine for nearly 70 points per game in the series. If Bosh can't go, that will pay huge dividends to the Celtics.
The time is now for Boston. They likely will see big changes to their roster following this postseason run. If they are going to win another championship, this is the year. The Heat have several more years to dominate the league, but Boston's time is running out.
The Celtics are going to need a lot of things to go their way if they are going to win this series. These are just a few advantages that could play into their favor. I expect that this will be a very hard-fought series and will go at least six games and maybe even the full seven.