Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics: 7 Bold Predictions for the Season-Opening Clash
The Miami Heat’s rivalry with the Boston Celtics is no secret and has grown deeper with competitive hatred towards each other for many years.
This was exaggerated with Miami’s addition of Chris Bosh and LeBron James to form the ‘Big 3,’ and further solidified as possibly the biggest rivalry in the NBA when Ray Allen left the Boston Celtics for a 50 percent pay cut to join the Miami Heat, causing Kevin Garnett to delete Ray’s number from his phone.
Ray Allen said it: “The NBA knows how to work it. This is reality TV,” in regards to the Heat being scheduled to play the Celtics on opening night in Miami, when the Heat will have their second banner raised and their championship rings presented to them in front of the Celtics team.
If the fire has already been lit, this moment will douse the Celtics, and we will be provided with one of the most intense games in recent NBA history.
Here are seven bold predictions for the NBA’s opening night at American Airlines Arena.
Ray Allen Checks in Early and Reminds the Celtics of What They’ve Lost
Ray Allen is a very nice guy.
He’s the ultimate professional, who’s always provided a demeanour of class and swag to match his insightful thoughts on the game of basketball.
He is extremely likable and a media darling.
However, if you think he’s going to come in softly on the Celtics, think again.
The Heat will have Sugar Ray check in at around the five-minute mark. He’ll be itching to get out there, likely at the expense of either Mario Chalmers or Shane Battier (assuming Chalmers has recovered in time from his injury).
This will leave the Heat with the ‘big 3’ on the court as well as two premier shooters on the floor to boot. As we know, the ‘big 3’ are tailor-made to shine in a situation where shooters can spread the floor, so the addition of the NBA all-time 3-point shot maker greatly benefits them.
Expect for LBJ or Flash to penetrate the defense and look for their newest perimeter threat to bury early 3’s fast and often.
Ray Allen defies his preseason form and knocks down 3-of-4 shot attempts, all from behind the arc, setting the tone for the duration of the game.
Garnett Takes It Personally
I don’t need to remind anyone of how fierce and competitive KG is on the floor.
The man can be exhausted and knocked onto the floor, and still provide a moral boost for his team with push-ups...on his knuckles, mind you.
This game will be no different.
Actually, that’s wrong. It will be different.
Different in that we are going to see an even fiercer KG, taking his ability to strike fear into the opposition to a whole new level. Expect the big man to flex his muscles and set hard screens, hard enough to rattle even the toughest NBA players. Mike Miller needs not to be reminded of what this might look like.
Expect Garnett to assert his presence on the court in the stat line and into the minds of the Heat players.
Garnett shows his dominance on the boards and defense (13+ rebounds, 3 blocks) and provides a barrage of hard fouls, sending the Heat slashers to the floor regularly. Garnett receives a technical in the first half, and is forced to play at a tamer, albeit minor, change of pace.
Chris Bosh Finds His Niche
The Heat don’t have a low post player. It’s not even an argument.
The Heat don’t have a quality center. It’s not...
Hold that thought. Chris Bosh has recently accepted the idea that he is the future center of the Miami Heat.
This is great news for the Heat. Not only do they now have a player who can actually catch a ball manning the 5, they also arguably have one of the better centers in the league.
Apart from Howard, Bynum, and maybe Al Jefferson, I’m not sure there can really be a STRONG case for another NBA center who could really push Bosh around (sorry Horford, Gasol and Lopez fans).
Why is this move important?
Regardless of what Coach Spo says about a positionless line up, someone has to be the big man on the floor, and that big man is going to spend some time banging with the other bigs. Bosh has shown his commitment to this by adding six pounds of muscle.
The move also allows for the Heat to find more minutes for its better role players, such as Battier, Allen, Haslem, Miller and Lewis.
Look for Bosh to embrace his new responsibility as the Heat's 5, and show us all that dinosaur scream we love to make fun of.
Bosh looks like he’s been a center his whole life, registering a stat line of 17 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks, giving the Miami Heat the dominant big man they’ve craved since Shaq left for Phoenix.
The Jet Remains Grounded
Jason Terry is one of the great smack talkers in the NBA.
He manages to do this with a somewhat likable character, however, which has earned him a lot of respect league-wide.
However, don’t expect the Heat to forget what he did to them in the NBA Finals in 2011, or the comments he made about ‘killing’ the Heat. Couple these factors in with his newest tattoo, and you’ve already got someone who the Heat would love to shut down.
Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade are very good perimeter defenders who take a lot of pride in their jobs. Don’t expect them to take the task of stopping Jason Terry and, of course, Rajon Rondo lightly, although it’s more likely that they try to limit Rondo’s production more so than prevent it, as that is just downright impossible.
While the Jet will be looking to prove he’s a worthy and better replacement for Ray Allen, don’t expect to see him set the world on fire during this game.
The Heat will be keen on letting Ray know that he is the more valuable asset to a team by showing how easily the Jet can be shut down.
Jason Terry finishes with a dismal stat line of 25 minutes, 7 points on 3-of-9 shooting, 2 assists, 2 rebounds and 3 turnovers.
LeBron, Rondo Do Their Thing
I don’t need to remind you that these two are premier talents in our league today.
Rondo is arguably the NBA’s greatest floor general, while LeBron is undoubtedly the game’s best player and well on his way to staking his claim to be in the conversation of the best ever.
When this game gets intense and fiery, the coaches will be calling on their No. 1 players more so than ever, and these two superstars won’t need a second reminder.
LeBron and Rajon are two of sport’s greatest competitors and seem to always save their best for each other. The 2012 ECF series is just the latest example of the show these players can put on for their fans.
Both are a triple-double threat every time they step onto the floor, and this game will be no exception.
These superstars rack up the following stat lines:
LeBron: 31 points, 8 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Rondo: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals
Role Players Prove to Be Vital
The secret to championship contenders is having a cast of reliable role players who do as their title suggests: they fill a role.
Both teams made the effort of getting deeper this offseason.
The Heat added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis (and more than likely Josh Harrellson), while the Celtics revamped their roster, adding Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Darko Milicic, Leandro Barbosa and draft picks Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger.
And don’t for a minute understate the value of a healthy Jeff Green, the main piece in the deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder.
When the starting line-up needs a rest, both teams will need quality minutes out of their second units, and this battle will prove pivotal in the outcome of this game.
Expect the production of each teams backups to pave the way for the success of the team.
Heat bench: 32 points on 53 percent shooting
Celtic bench: 26 points on 44 percent shooting
With all of these factors in play, the Miami Heat will come out on top as clear winners.
The Heat will stake a claim as the undisputed favourite for the NBA title in 2012/13, sending an ominous warning to the remainder of the league after just Game 1 of 82.
The Celtics, though, are not a team that will go down lightly, especially against their hated rivals.
The Miami Heat triumph with a resounding victory despite Rondo’s triple-double, 105-96.
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