The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat meet for the third consecutive year in the playoffs in what is shaping up to be one the best rivalries in the Eastern Conference since Miami-New York in the late '90s.
In 2010, the Celtics made quick work of the Dwayne Wade's Heat in the first-round and may have been the impetus for LeBron James' "Decision."
In 2011, the Heat beat the Celtics in five games. This year's chess match is another battle of old vs. new with the Boston Big Three another year older versus a Heat squad featuring the reigning MVP James and his running mate Dwayne Wade.
Miami is off to a great start, winning Game 1 at home on Monday Night.
While people like to pick apart match-ups, one of the ones that will not be featured this series is Paul Pierce versus LeBron James.
Pierce has been steady this playoffs, but nowhere near the beast that carried the Celtics to a title in 2008. He has been bothered by a leg injury which has limited his production. The C's barely survived an up-and-coming Philly team taking care of business in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
James however, is having another career season and amazing playoff run. He seems to only get better every year and is always motivated to be at the top of the basketball universe. It is gift to watch such a supremely talented athlete work his stuff such as James.
The C's will try to use all the tricks out of the book to slow him down but they cannot expect to stop him. LeBron James will find a way to get the job done no matter what is thrown in his way as shown in his regular season successes. He has yet to win an NBA title and with his stellar play in the playoffs, he might actually accomplish this goal.
Avery Bradley is one of the Celtics better defenders because of his youth and size but he cannot be expected to stop James. Nor is Pierce who has an injury of his own to deal with. The Celtics will have to shut everyone else down and make James do all the work, much in the way they eliminated James' Cavs from the playoffs in the 2010 semifinals.
The real match-up to look for is Rondo against Wade. They will most likely be matched up one on one and these guys can be the real difference makers. If Wade can beat Rondo, then the road to the Finals will be that much easier for the defending Eastern Conference Champs.