Series Preview: Celtics vs. Heat (Eastern Conference Final)

Story posted September 15, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Austin Groft

The NBA playoffs continue to entertain with the top two teams in the Eastern Conference falling in the semifinals. That leaves the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. Who would have guessed that these two teams were going to play for a trip to the NBA Finals at the beginning of the season? Buckle up, because this is going to be an amazing series to watch.

Miami has yet to be challenged in the playoffs, losing only one game so far. That came to 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, but Miami dominated the rest of that series to win 4-1. The Heat also took care of the Pacers with ease, winning that first-round matchup in four games. They’ve been resting for a week now, so they’ll look to keep their flame burning against Boston.

The Celtics, meanwhile, took a 2-0 lead against the Toronto Raptors, then escaped disaster, winning in seven games. It was a much harder fight than their first series, in which they defeated Philadelphia in four games. The Celtics played their last game on Friday, giving them the rest disadvantage, but that may not matter with Jason Tatum on the team. Tatum has had a really impressive postseason so far, emerging as one of the new stars in the league. Taking the Celtics to the championship would be a great start to his young career.

How can the Heat win? Playing as a team and continuing to find open shooters around the perimeter. Looking at the Heat’s roster, there’s an abundance of 3-point shooters who have been lights-out in the postseason. Players such as Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson have been electric. Their ball movement helps find open shooters and get open looks across the court, making scoring a breeze. On the defensive side of the ball, they’ll need to bring the same energy as they did against the Bucks.

How can the Celtics win? Getting more people involved. Kemba Walker struggled in the last two games against Toronto, shooting just 25% from the field. Boston needs to get him going early to add another offensive threat. The Celtics also need to do a better job of closing out games. We’ve seen them blow big leads multiple times this postseason in games that they should have had nailed down. Defensively, the Celtics need to have better communication to find shooters and stop open cuts to the basketball.

This series is practically a coin flip. We have two teams who play great team basketball on offense and who can also get stops on defense late.

The Celtics have made three of the last four Eastern Conference championships and are looking to reach the finals for the first time since 2010. The last time Erik Spoelstra and company made the finals was back when LeBron was still on the Heat.

Both teams are well-coached, play great team defense and shoot the long ball extremely well. Regardless of who wins, NBA fans should have something to look forward to every other night with this series.

Prediction: Celtics win the series in seven games

 

Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email atg5271@psu.edu.