The Miami Heat are still the top contenders in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Celtics closely trailing in their cross hairs after the reported signing of Courtney Lee in a sign-and-trade scenario involving former Purdue standout Jajuan Johnson. The NBA rumors just keep on coming.
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported the sign-and-trade Thursday via Twitter. While it does not propel the Boston Celtics to the No. 1 seed above the Miami Heat, it does fulfill the promise of competitiveness throughout the season and eventually in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.
What does it all mean for the Miami Heat?
It means that the Boston Celtics were never willing to bow out quietly.
While LeBron James hoists the Heat to a place of predetermined dominance in the east, Paul Pierce, his most fierce rival, knows how quickly his clock is winding down. Pierce and James have competed so much since the 2003 NBA Draft that he is his truest antagonist with the most honest chance at bringing him back down to size.
Just because the chance is honest, however, doesn’t make it 100 percent feasible. This is still the Miami Heat being evaluated and the Boston Celtics have more to do than signing Courtney Lee in order to trump Miami’s effort.
The Heat still have a Big Three averaging about 28 years of age, 22.4 points per game and 100 percent confidence in the fact that they can repeat after winning an inspiring four games straight over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals.
The Celtics do retain that championship spirit, but nothing is sweeter or more encouraging than being without one of your primary components for a chunk of the playoffs and still exposing franchises for their lack of preparation for the unforeseen.
Who could have predicted that LeBron James would have had a game against the Boston Celtics that would have gone down as one of the most lights-out playoff performances in the history of the league?
Who would have stood against all odds and predicted that, after falling 2-3 against the Celtics, the Miami Heat would have come back to win a pivotal Game 6 at TD Garden?
Courtney Lee’s addition definitely adds character to Boston’s bench and a lineup that was riddled by age and inconsistency, with the exception of Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. Avery Bradley’s presence in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals series would have assisted in the general cause and Lee’s presence offsets the loss of Ray Allen.
They were without depth at the shooting guard position, even with Allen, as he was unhealthy and Bradley’s shoulder plagued him on more than one occasion through the playoffs. Bradley is recovering from surgery and a timetable has yet to be established, which means Lee is the perfect solution until he returns.
It can’t be overlooked that the C’s also brought in former Mavericks’ trigger man, Jason Terry, to help on the perimeter after Allen’s devastating exit to South Beach. Terry only further adds to the edge that Boston has on most franchises in the east concerning the veteran knowledge and talent of what it takes to win a championship.
Even with each tick being appraised as to how the Boston Celtics came out on the upside of this deal, the Heat were not idle this offseason with the signing of both Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to load their perimeter and experience.
Neither player is on the upside of his career but, with reduced pressure on both Allen and Lewis, they are scaled to fill their roles with Miami ideally.
Allen’s lack of athleticism is not as much of a liability as it was with Boston who, at the time, lacked a lot of players who performed above the rim. Miami’s core is stacked with athletic and agile players. Allen and Lewis’ roles are on the perimeter with any other attributes labeled icing on the cake.
The starting lineup of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers and possibly Ray Allen still amply threatens the lineup of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass.
The Celtics made strides to excel to the height of their potential as the championship doors have closed swiftly on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but the Miami Heat have stayed in the game as well.
With no huge moves made to break up their core, the Heat stand as the top dog in the Eastern Conference. After all, Mike Miller’s contemplation of retirement has almost become irrelevant. Doesn’t that count for something?