The Celtics had a heck of a Game 7 on Sunday versus the Milwaukee Bucks and are set to play the number 1 seeded Miami Heat tonight to kick off the Eastern Conference Finals. What can we expect from this matchup, and can the Celtics finally make it to the Finals after reaching the ECF 4 times in the last 6 years?
The Celtics finished the season 2 games behind the Heat in the Eastern Conference with a 51-31 record. This after starting the season 24-24, too. That said, the seeds are determined by full year production, and the Heat had them beat on that. However, the Celtics had them beat in defensive and offensive rating, with 106.9 DRtg and 114.4 ORtg compared to the Heat’s 109.1 and 113.7 rating, respectively.
The playoffs have been somewhat different. The Celtics are still beating the Heat in points scored per game, but the Heat have the largest point differential of the playoffs at 9.6 per game (the Celtics are a distant second at 6.6). Their ratings are also better in the playoffs. So, the Celtics look to have their work cut out for them.
The Celtics have the advantage talent-wise, with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum leading the way, but the Heat aren’t exactly slouches. Jimmy Butler is their leading scorer, and Bam Adebayo leads the defense. The Celtics should have a healthy Rob Williams this series, so that should help contain Adebayo. And I don’t see anyone on the Heat matching both Tatum and Brown. I said the same thing about the Bucks without Middleton, and Giannis is a better player than Butler. And he doesn’t really have someone like Middleton on this team.
I’m not saying it will be a cakewalk by any means, but I think this Celtics team matches up well with the Heat. They have the star power and the depth with Derrick White, Grant Williams, and Payton Pritchard all playing well against the Bucks (there’s also Daniel Theis, who had his moments). The Heat are deep and talented as well, which is how they won so many games, but this team is really gelling right now. And I don’t see that changing. Celtics in 6.
Image Source: the Boston Herald
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