As the NBA playoffs move towards its final four, the Eastern Conference is first to grant access to a potential Finals participant. The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are two teams not many thought would be squaring off for the honor but nevertheless here we are. The NBA bubble continues to surprise but The Baseline remains consistent in coverage of the league. We’ll discuss the Eastern Conference Finals matchup between these once bitter rivals and how the new cast of characters will add to the legacy of the rivalry.
Erik Spoelstra vs Brad Stevens
– Boston’s seven-game series produced some curious decisions by Stevens while Spoelstra and his Miami team have cruised through the playoffs to this point.
– With both coaches imploring a defensive mindset, who will defend the three better throughout the course of the series?
– Which perennial coach of the year candidate will get the upper-hand?
Miami’s depth and three-point shooting
– Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo lead the team but it’s the shooting of Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinso, Jae Crowder and Goran Dragic that make the team so formidable.
– Can the younger guys continue their hot shooting throughout the course of the series?
– Will Marcus Smart be able to stop the penetration of Dragic and chase shooters off the three?
Boston’s stars vs their bench
– Can Kemba Walker find his groove against a defense that doesn’t have the same length that the Raptors had?
– Jaylen Brown shot 16-57 from three in the series vs Toronto, he’ll need to get to the basket at a more frequent rate vs Miami.
– What will the return of Gordon Hayward ultimately mean for Boston’s depth? Will he return with the ability to help immediately or will he need time to get back into shape?
Keys to the series
– Walker and Hayward (upon his return) loom as the two most important players for the Celtics
– Adebayo should have an advantage all series long and should have big numbers throughout
Tune in to hear our predictions on how this great matchup with turn out.