clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview,Heat vs. Celtics

Well, it is time for my favorite two month basketball tournament of the year: The NBA Playoffs. This year is interesting to me because there are several presumptive early season favorites that find themselves struggling (Nuggets, Celtics, even Lakers) coming in to the playoffs while teams like the Suns and Thunder are all of a sudden teams that nobody wants to play. The Heat (No. 5 Seed) match up against the aforementioned Celtics (No.4 Seed) starting Saturday night. The Celtics have owned the Heat lately; on paper, this looks like a runaway for the Celtics, possibly a sweep. However, I don’t see that happening, for a number of reasons. The following is a breakdown of the series, based not on statistical breakdown but on what I have observed this season. As they say, The Playoffs are a new season, and as such all stats go out the window. Key for the Heat This is an obvious one. No team featuring Wade should ever be swept; he is just too good. However, Wade has bigger goals than "not being swept". It is often said that if a team wants to win big, it’s role players have to play like stars in the playoffs. That’s all fine and good, but in the same vein, the star player has to up his game on the biggest stage. If Wade is not dominant (and that does not necessarily mean "dominant scorer", just that the game has to flow at HIS pace) than the Michael Beasleys and Quentin Richardsons of the world can do all the damage they want and it will not matter. Key for the Celtics Anyone who watched the Celtics this season knows that Rajon Rondo has become the team’s best player. As Bill Simmons has written, the rise of Rondo and Kendrick Perkins has created an awkward on-court situation with the Old Guard of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The New Guys want to take the team over while the Old Guys cling to their pride and former glory. Rondo is the key to making this all work for the Celtics in this series. If the Celtics really do have the "Playoff Switch" that they have talked about than it will come down to Rondo to make sure everyone is clicking. If the switch is not flipped, than Rondo is the best chance the disjointed (albeit talented) Celtics have of stealing a series win. Heat X Factor Momentum. The Heat has won 12 of its last 13 games and 8 straight on the road(more on that later).Simply put, this team is rolling, while the Celtics have played mediocre basketball since Christmas, including a 3-7 tumble to the finish line. These are two teams heading in opposite directions coming in to the game. The numbers are bad, but what is worse is how bad the Celtics look right now. It is almost sad to see such a proud group of veterans reduced to this. The Celtics might have that "Playoff Switch" and they might pull a 180. But right now the Heat is the better team. Celtics X Factor It has been written a million times, but it has to be Rasheed Wallace. He loves The Playoffs and always turns his game on (at least, he always has). If he does, the Celtics have a lethal front court of Perkins, Garnett and ‘Sheed that the Heat cannot make up for. If he maintains his current level of play, the Celtics will be giving major minutes to a non-factor. Stat that Matters Ok, I lied, there are some stats on here. The Celtics won 26 games on the road and only 24 at home. Home Court Advantage? With that information, plus the Heat’s current road dominance, the Celtics advantage is at best diminished and at worst gone.