This morning we talked about the bench, and while I do think that they could swing a game or two the clear focus in this series will be on the starters. In fact, with all the rest in between games (3 days between games 2 and 3!) you'll likely see Doc tighten up the rotations tight and maybe even leave the starters out there longer than usual.
Doc Rivers will be thrilled if his bench starts to produce, but when the Celtics open their second round series in Miami on Sunday afternoon, expect the minutes of starters on both sides to climb. "(Depth) is important, but at the end of the day the starters are the key," said Rivers. "The starters have to play well. The bench has to help, and we have enough guys that that will happen for us as well. But let’s make no mistake, if your starters are playing well, then you have a very good chance of winning playoff games."
So it comes down to the glitzy matchups.
- Dwyane Wade vs. Ray Allen - Wade has the advantage in theory but hasn't fared well against the C's lately. The common school of thought is that he wears down while chasing Ray around screens.
- LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce - Again, LeBron has an advantage but Paul is about as good a matchup against him as you are going to get on both sides of the court.
- Chris Bosh vs. Kevin Garnett - Bosh is typically better offensively but KG is leaps and bounds better defensively, so advantage Boston.
If the Celtics can manage the disadvantages in those matchups or even break even (so to speak) then you have to like our chances because of Rajon Rondo's clear advantage over Mike Bibby or anyone else they throw out there.
But Rondo is the wild card in this series because asking Mike Bibby or Mario Chalmers to stay with him for 48 minutes may be asking too much. That could mean Wade or James switching their assignments to try to contain Rondo. "We’ll see one of those guys guarding Rondo, which means one of them aren’t guarding Ray or Paul, so we’re good with all those," Rivers said.
There are going to be games where LeBron and Wade simply dominate the game, regardless of what defense we throw at them. They are 2 of the best talents in the league. But talent doesn't always translate to winning. Thankfully that isn't a one on one exhibition or even a 3 on 3 tournament. This is 5 on 5 basketball and the best team will win the series.
I would take it one step further and point out that the Celtics are a "greater than the sum of its parts" type of team while the Heat are an "overwhelm teams with individual performances." Even members of the Sixers noted that it felt like the Heat just take turns on offense rather than playing as a unit and moving the ball around.
Give me this team over their stars any day of the week. It won't be easy, but I'm confident. Celtics in 6.