By: Doug Casey
In a rematch of sorts, the Boston Celtics find themselves in the middle of a playoff series against the Miami Heat, the same team to which Boston lost to last year, four games to one.
This year the stakes are higher, with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line. In what may very well be the last playoff series for the Celtics “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, they look to capture a third trip to the Finals in five years.
On Monday night, Boston dropped the first game of the series in Miami. Despite being tied at halftime, 46-46, the Heat outscored them in the second half, and raced to a 93-79 win.
Despite some questionable officiating, as the Celtics were charged with five technical fouls, Boston shot poorly from the floor. Pierce was just 5 for 18, Rajon Rondo was 8 for 20, and Allen continued to struggle, going 1 for 7, while missing 4 free throws.
Without home court advantage, the Celtics will have to win at least one game in Miami. Game 2 will be played tonight in Miami, and is a must win scenario for Boston, as they can’t afford to fall down 2 games to none against a superior team. This would leave no margin for error, and would force the Celtics to win all 3 games in Boston, if they can get to a game 6. That’s not a given, since Miami is a great team, which adds to the overall pressure.
Coming into the series, I expected the Celtics to drop game 1, as Miami Coach Erik Sploestra was previously 5-0 in games ones, and the fact the Heat rarely lose at home. How the Celtics play in game 2 will determine their fate; if they win, they have a chance at winning the series, but if they lose, a quick playoff exit would likely be coming their way.
In the end I think Boston will put up a formidable fight, and find a way to play better this series than they did last year. Unfortunately though, this team just looks spent after the series against the Philadelphia 76ers, which leads me to believe that Miami will win in 5 games.