Heat vs. Celtics: What to Watch When Ray Allen Faces Boston in Season Opener
The league must be in the mood for making up for last year’s shortened season with an epic opening that will only solidify this rivalry. However, Ray Allen isn’t the only story here.
There are about five intriguing headlines to snag from Miami’s home opener against the team they eliminated from the Playoffs for two consecutive seasons.
Fans thought the Indiana series was brutal?
5. LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce
LeBron James going against Paul Pierce will never get old, even as Pierce crosses that thin line between veteran and senile. Pierce knows James better than any of his opponents, including James’ media rival, Kobe Bryant. Both men are the recognized leaders of their franchises, and although James has his ring, he’s not done proving himself.
Pierce, on the other hand, has a closing door on his potential in the NBA, and with the Eastern Conference ever improving, time is running out.
With all the pieces placed around him like Courtney Lee and Jason Terry and Dionte Christmas, Pierce still dictates where the Celtics land at the end of the regular season and ultimately in any contest against the Miami Heat.
James isn’t slowing down anytime soon; therefore, Pierce will have to figure out a way to manipulate the strengths of his game to trump a younger, more athletic and stronger player. It will be interesting to see if he can, or if the opener will just be a Game 6 Eastern Conference Finals repeat.
4. Dwyane Wade Post-Surgery
A lot of players have gone into the offseason undergoing surgeries and have come out better than previously.
There’s a strong feeling brewing in South Beach that while the 2012-13 season may not recreate 2006-NBA-Finals Dwyane Wade, it will be far better than the persecuted version of the Miami star who appeared in the 2012 Playoffs.
Wade will not be the same man that analysts and fans were questioning in the Playoffs, but he will not override James has, as the Heat now have James as their clear leader.
However, it does not make how he will play the game any less significant to Miami’s probable victory. The surgery has not raised too many eyebrows, but it is always a question of how much a player will trust his body after enduring such a process.
No worries though; Wade will be just fine.
3. Courtney Lee or Avery Bradley?
The Boston Celtics will have an interesting dilemma on their hands when it comes to this meeting if Avery Bradley is healthy.
The signing of Courtney Lee was made to help fill the void that losing Ray Allen and having an injured Bradley left. Lee is not as defensive-minded as Bradley is, which won him his starting job in the first place, but he is more offensively capable than Bradley is at this stage in his career.
Lee is also more athletic than Allen had grown to be and gives Boston better play out in transition. With all of these attributes smiling in his favor, where will Bradley land in the season opener if he’s healthy?
Of course Boston needs to keep Dwyane Wade on a leash, which Bradley has proven he can do defensively, but they also need to realize that with the addition of Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Miami Heat have become more potent offensively on the perimeter. I
It will come down to which part of the floor Doc Rivers wants to focus on at the position, and it is probable that Courtney Lee will be starting in place of Bradley regardless of his health.
2. Rajon Rondo Wants Revenge
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, a game in which Rajon Rondo scored 44 points, there was a foul in the dying minutes that was not called. Ray Allen took issue with the foul during the postgame conference while Rondo shied away from discussing it in fear of being cited for a fine for criticizing league officials.
It was a sour loss, especially for Rondo.
The ECF left a bad taste in Rondo’s mouth whether he says so or not. He’s not the type of player to stomach defeat well, especially at the hands of the Celtics’ most prominent rivals in the Eastern Conference.
Rondo took the series’ loss personally, as he should. As the floor leader of Boston’s offense, it’s up to him to control the pace of the game and unfortunately that comes with heightened praise for a victory and growing responsibility for a loss.
Rondo has a role unlike that of Paul Pierce’s role with the organization. While Pierce is still the perceived head honcho, Rondo is the Celtics’ court general, and as he’s matured with the Celtics, he’s learned how vital he is to their success.
It’s his first chance to face the fire-breathing dragon and strike before any other franchise can.
Why wouldn’t he thrive on that type of stage?
1. Ray Allen's Debut Against the Boston Celtics
The time has come for Ray Allen to face the same men he “abandoned” for the greener grass, exquisite nightlife and menacing allure of the Miami Heat. Who can blame him for wanting to bolt to a championship contender?
Allen’s future with the Celtics was not as secure as Danny Ainge made it seem, and as Allen’s injuries decreased his impact on the starting lineup, the less valuable he became to the C’s. The Heat don’t need him to be the clutch savior every night, nor do they need him to be as integral a part of the offense as he was with the Celtics.
Miami just expects Allen to play his role in an already established powerhouse.
Tension with Boston point, Rondo, may have been set ablaze with Allen’s act of “treachery”, but it’s just business. Nevertheless, the day of reckoning will come, and there are questions surrounding how much of an influence Allen can be against the same men he won his only NBA championship with just four years ago.
Will he hit those clutch threes if it comes down to it? Do his teammates know him too well to allow that to happen?
Will he give Miami the secret to a surefire victory?
Only time will tell.