Celtics vs. Heat: Which Boston and Miami Bench Players Loom Large
The Miami Heat lead the Eastern Conference finals series over the Boston Celtics 1-0. The Celtics are being given no hope by all NBA experts and it seems as if everyone believes that they are too old to contend for an NBA championship.
The Heat, however, seem to have most of the pressure on them because they are expected to win it all this season; anything less would be a disappointment for them and possibly lead to a breakup of Miami's "Big Three."
The bench players will play a large role in tonight's game and for the rest of the series.
I have compiled a list of the five bench players that will have the biggest impact on the outcome of the series.
Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
Udonis Haslem has been a starter for the Heat at times, but came off the bench in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Since the Heat don't have a legitimate big man other than Ronny Turiaf with Bosh out, Haslem will have to play huge.
He didn't score in the opening game of the series and only grabbed two rebounds, but he will need to play like he did in the Indiana series if the Heat expect to win this series.
Expect him to be motivated after a poor Game 1 performance and play as a rejuvenated Haslem that Miami needs without Chris Bosh.
Mickael Pietrus, Boston Celtics
The Celtics are looking old, frankly. They are having a tough time keeping up with the younger, more athletic Miami Heat.
With the possibility of Ray Allen being limited in his play tonight and throughout the series, Mickael Pietrus may have to be the sixth man that the Celtics need to fill in for the Hall of Fame guard.
The Celtics are banged up and tired and that is why Mickael Pietrus is the most important man off the Boston bench and he needs to play consistently like he has throughout his entire career.
His team's fate depends on it.
Mike Miller, Miami Heat
Although the forward's role has been declining ever since the Heat became home to LeBron James and Chris Bosh, this is the series that Miller needs to prove himself.
He has always been a solid shooter and offensive player. With Chris Bosh still out, Miller needs to step up and give the Heat a boost in offense from the bench.
Look for the smooth-shooting Miller to stand and deliver this series and boost the Heat to the NBA Finals.
Keyon Dooling, Boston Celtics
Keyon Dooling is another player that has tough shoes to fill with the injury to guard Avery Bradley. Bradley injured his shoulder in the series against the Pacers and is expected to undergo surgery on that shoulder.
Dooling will be the guard that takes the place of the injured Bradley and it won't be easy.
The 11-year veteran will need to be more of a scorer than he usually is and needs to create open shots for an otherwise overmatched Celtics team.
Expect Keyon Dooling to play better than he has, but not well enough to launch the Celtics into the NBA Finals.
Boston is just too old to compete with the Heat.
Joel Anthony, Miami Heat
I know you thought I was going to say Dexter Pittman, but he only comes into the game to throw elbows. Joel Anthony is a much-needed big man for the Miami Heat.
Anthony will be called upon to come off the bench and fill in for an absent Chris Bosh.
Expect him to play big minutes in this series and even though he is not at all a scorer, he will pull down some boards.
Joel Anthony needs to step up for his team and prove that the Miami Heat actually does have a bench, not just three superstars.