Eastern Conference Championship Preview and Prediction

The Miami Heat have had the luxury of sitting by the pool watching as the Boston Celtics grinded out a seven game series against the defending champion Toronto Raptors.  Boston’s bench is already much shorter than the Miami Heat and they will truly be tested in this matchup.  Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra has no problem running a 10 man rotation that allows them to keep up the pressure on the defensive end, while still having dynamic players that can put the ball in the basket.  

Boston will be in their second conference title game in the last three seasons.  They have the experience of being there but are still led by young stars on the offensive end and will have constant pressure put on them by a couple of different defenders that bring length and tenacity.  Jae Crowder, Duncan Robinson, Andre Iguadola and Tyler Herro are all guys that can defend the perimeter, driving shooters toward Bam Adebayo in the middle.  

Key Players-

Goran Dragic, Miami Heat

Dragic has been an underappreciated player during his entire career.  After spending most of the pre-bubble season in a bench role he was inserted as the starter and has not looked back.  Dragic was a dominant force in the first round, slicing up the Pacers averaging 22.8PPG, 5 APG and shooting 40% from three.  He continued his offensive onslaught in the semifinals, dissecting the best defensive team in the NBA the Milwaukee Bucks.  Dragic shot 44%, averaging 19.8 per game.  

Boston had issues with Kyle Lowry throughout the last round and Dragic has multiple weapons that Lowry doesn’t have.  If Boston chooses to put Marcus Smart on Dragic that will leave Jimmy Butler to be guarded by either Jaylen Brown or potentially Jayson Tatum. That is not where you want your two biggest scorers on the defensive end.  

Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics

Kemba has not been in this situation since his time at UCONN.  His performance during the Eastern Conference semi-finals was not great.  Averaging 17 ppg, shooting just 27% from three, Walker was not at the top of his game and it won’t get any easier against the stout defense of the Miami Heat.   

The Heat will have Jimmy Butler working against Jayson Tatum which means the offens will have to come through Walker.  If Walker can perform as the dynamic scorer we know he can be it will open up shoots for the young stars Boston will have to lean on for offense. 

Conclusion

The Miami Heat have a lot of momentum coming into this matchup.  Boston’s lack of depth is my biggest concern in this series.  The lack of rest that you get while in the bubble will be a problem for a Celtics team that just doesn’t have the guys on the bench that can give their stars the chance to take a breath and not find themselves in a bad spot.

Boston will have a huge problem matching up with Bam Adebayo in the middle.  He has been a force versus Boston in every matchup averaging a double double in the three games this year.  His ability to put Daniel Theis in foul trouble early means that they will be forced to either go small or utilize the still developing Robert Williams.  Adebayo will have his run of the middle, especially if Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler drive the middle the way I believe they will be able to do.  

The Celtics feel like this is their time to win the East but they face a team that is just deeper and havs more scorers then they have faced in the last two rounds.  While the Celtics may think this is their time the Heat are on a mission led by the most tenacious player in the league.  The depth will win out and Jimmy Butler and his squad will find themselves in the bubble finals. 

Prediction- Heat in 7

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