The NBA Season is upon us. This evening the Celtics and Heat will kick things off to what I think will be one of the most exciting NBA seasons ever. Both of these teams have tons of questions and goals going into this season. Can the Heat repeat? Will Lebron continue his legacy? Can the Heat stay healthy? Can the Celtics stay healthy? How will the Heat do with Ray Allen and the Celtics without? There are thousands but let’s break down this matchup and these teams going into the new season.
The Miami Heat are clear favorites to win the NBA championship once again. I give them the edge over the Lakers because the Lakers just like the Heat in their first season together have to have time to gel. It’s not going to work instantly so I don’t think they will be able to turn their talent into immediate success although I expect these two teams meet in the finals. I think the Heat will have a better season than last because now the monkey is off everybody’s back. Especially Lebron James. He no longer has to worry about the pressures of winning the elusive championship. He has the ring, now he can just play basketball. If I were the rest of the NBA I would be scared, Lebron’s already won one now his only goal is to just keep winning. Miami’s roster also improved in terms of personnel this season. They signed two more three point snipers, Rashard Lewis and the best of all time from behind the arc in Ray Allen. They are perfect additions to the team as the whole Heat offense is really a drive and kick system. With the best penetrators and an army of three point shooters on the roster their offense is very hard to stop. I’m even liking Dexter Pittman’s play in the pre-season. He’s a big body and he lost a lot of weight over the season and he could provide some valuable minutes for Miami. I think the most important thing for the Miami Heat to do this year is just play their game. Last season they did a great job of eliminating outside influences. For example, Lebron reading books and meditating before games. They keep doing what they do best which is run and play defense then they can expect another championship this season.
The Boston Celtics are going through a strange phase right now. I thought that Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were going to retire after last season, they were going to end it as Celtics and Boston would start rebuilding with Rondo at the helm. Obviously, a 3 year extension with Boston was too tempting for KG to just go home and hang up the jersey. He stayed along for the ride, a true Celtic for life. Ray Allen on the other hand wasn’t given a true chance to re-sign. I don’t care what you say he was short sighted, he gave a championship to that franchise and then they signed Jason Terry and expected him to be the 7th man in the rotation for the next three years. I’m sorry he deserves more. Anyway, besides the loss of Allen the Celtics definitely improved and could be the deepest team in the NBA. In Allen’s absence the Celtics replaced him with Jason Terry, Leonardo Barbosa, and Courtney Lee in the backcourt. They resigned Jeff Green, kept Brandon Bass, kept Kevin Garnett and then drafted rookies Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger. I’m really excited for this team. They’re very deep and very experienced and I think they could surprise a lot of teams in the league. They’re like an older version of the Clippers if you will. Anyway, this season will be about introducing the new players to the Celtic way, and the winning culture in Boston. The Celtics always fight every season no matter how ‘old’ they might be, they will always pull tricks out of the hat.
In this game specifically I think the Heat take this one. They’re at home on opening night and have all the energy in the world behind them. The whole team is healthy, they’re ready, Ray Allen is ready to show the Celtics what they missed out on and Lebron is ready to start his quest for the second ring. If the Celtics do want to win this game they have to use their depth to their advantage. All the wing players off the bench all need to provide and attack in different ways to keep the defense moving. They should also try to get Paul Pierce in mismatch situations in the post if Lebron guards Rondo as he usually does. Jeff Green is also going to have to play big in the interior not just on offense against Bosh but on defense, when Garnett leaves the game the defense always suffers and Jeff Green along with Melo and Sullinger can’t let up inside because if the paint is open you can bet your top dollar that Lebron and Wade will be getting in there. They should also remember their loss at the hands of the Heat in the conference finals last season. Remember the pain they had when they walked off the court in game 7. That mindset will motivate them to come out strong and show their rookies how to respond to the pressure. The Heat just need to run the Celtics out of the building and get their shooters in a rhythm early, once Mike Miller and Allen are hot that will be contagious and give everyone else the energy to keep going – if the crowd’s not enough of course. It will be a full house in Miami and that should be a huge boost for Miami.