Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics: Who Positioned Themselves Better for Playoffs?
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics has been one of the most intense matchups this year, but has thus far been dominated by the defending Eastern Conference champions.
LeBron James and company have made it tough on the Celtics, but the veteran group has always found a way to best the Heat, something Miami has experienced much too often in close games against the top teams in basketball.
With both teams being active before and after the trade deadline, it's time to ask who is better positioned to make a championship run now that the dust is settling. If you have any thoughts or comments, be sure to leave them below.
Who do you think is in better shape as we head down the final stretch of the regular season towards the playoffs?
No. 5 Miami: Possible Haslem Return
Udonis Haslem has been out for most of the year with an injury, but he should be back before the end of the season.
Haslem is a tough interior presence. He should help on defense and help the Heat get those tough rebounds, as well as go toe-to-toe with the toughest guys that Miami will have to see come playoff time in the Eastern Conference
It's not earth-shattering, but it could really help Miami.
No. 5 Boston: Green's Contributions on Defense
This may seem a little weird to people who have seen Jeff Green play in Oklahoma City.
At times, Green struggled on defense, but only for the sheer fact he was playing out of position, trying to guard players that are bigger and stronger than him. Green is a small forward at heart and he's more than capable of being able to guard his position.
Boston now has another guy to throw at players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
No. 4 Miami: Ability to Adapt
The Miami Heat are a versatile team.
Not only can Miami score and beat you in a shootout of a game, the Heat can dig in and beat you with their defense, something they will need to do in the playoffs. You can't just outscore every team, even if you have two of the best players in the world.
Miami's ability to play outstanding defense will be crucial come playoff time.
No. 4 Boston: Returning Players
While we're focusing on what Boston lost at the deadline, we need to remember who is coming back.
Guys like Shaquille O'Neal are coming back, and if they can stay healthy, the Celtics will get more bodies to work with in the playoffs. It will give Boston some low post threats, and while they aren't Kendrick Perkins, they're valuable to a championship run.
Hopefully Shaq can stay healthy—Boston will need to rely on him big time against a guy like Dwight Howard if they meet in the playoffs.
No. 3: Miami: Pursuing Another Wing Player
Corey Brewer is on the free agent market, and Miami was quick to dial in for his services.
While the Heat may have lost out on Troy Murphy, a player that Miami could have really used to help bolster the frontcourt, the Heat still have the ability to go after guys who can get out on the wings and make things happen on both sides of the ball.
Brewer would be a nice addition if he chose Miami out of his many, many suitors.
No. 3 Boston: Extra Offense from the Bigs
Troy Murphy is a guy who can give Boston's frontcourt some versatility.
Murphy will work with with a slasher like Rajon Rondo, who should be able to drive the lane and then kick out to him on the wing and either hit the jumper or then slash to the basket. His offensive game is something the Celtics could use in the frontcourt and be a welcome addition.
It shouldn't take long to see Murphy contribute for the Celtics.
No. 2 Miami: Added Three Point Threat
While there are plenty of knocks on Mike Bibby, there is one thing a lot of people are missing.
Bibby is hitting 44 percent of his three-point shots, and when you're playing with slashers like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, you are going to get plenty of wide-open looks from downtown, and if he can shoot at that clip, he's a very valuable asset.
He may be a black hole on defense, but Miami could use his range on offense.
No 2 Boston: Adding Frontcourt Depth
When you move a guy like Kendrick Perkins, you have to fill the void somehow.
By getting Nenad Kristic back and then signing Troy Murphy, Boston re-stocked the shelf with talent in the front court. Sure, there isn't a presence like Perkins, but now the Celtics have capable bodies they can throw out there to get some production.
It's not like Doc Rivers is going to have to wear Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis into the ground after this trade.
No. 1 Miami: Still Growing as a Team
The Miami Heat are still a work in progress.
That is one thing that still needs to be made clear. Sure, this team has faults—especially in close games—but it's not something that's easy to work out in less than a year. It's not like when Boston came together or even when Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire joined up. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are very similar players, and there are still kinks to be worked out.
This group has time to get them in order before the playoffs begin, and if they do, Miami's going to be very scary.
No. 1: Boston: Getting Paul Pierce Help
Before this trade, Paul Pierce didn't have a legit back up.
Sure, Boston would work guys in to try and give him a rest, but now that Jeff Green is in the lineup, the Celtics have a guy who can come in and be a legit presence for the team and even be paired with Pierce if the team wants to go small at some point.
This move will really help Pierce down the stretch and help keep him fresh for the playoffs.
In the end, Boston is the team that's best prepared to make a run at a championship.
The Celtics have the veteran experience and know how to win together. Not only that, but Miami hasn't proven it can win consistently against the top teams and win in close games. Playoff games aren't going to be walks in the park, and we've seen over the years that this group in Boston can dig down deep and grind out tough wins.
Until Miami proves that, Boston will have the edge.