The last time the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat met, it was in Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat defeated the Celtics by a score of 101-88, in a game that really wasn’t even that close down the stretch. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh led the way with a combined 73 points and 26 rebounds.
The rematch begins tonight, as the Celtics and Heat renew their rivalry. Celtics coach Doc Rivers has said during the offseason that their targets are set directly on the Heat, and that he wants to “kill the Heat.” When asked who their top competitors are in the Eastern Conference, Wade quickly stated, “Boston.”
Ray Allen came over from the Celtics to the Heat during the offseason and there’s been some bad blood in the media between the Celtics and Allen. Allen claims he was forced out, while the Celtics claim they did everything they could to keep him and they feel betrayed.
The Celtics have brought in a couple of veterans and a couple of young guys to help shore up their depth and add some athleticism on the wings. Jason Terry steps in to replace Allen and is a guy who has made big shots in big games, and is a champion. Courtney Lee and Jeff Green bring some athleticism on the wings to compete with James and Wade. Jared Sullinger provides more bulk in the paint.
For a regular season opener, the stakes are unusually high and emotions will be off the charts.
Some would point to a single game among an 82-game season and downplay it. I don’t see it that way. These teams are on a collision course and unless something very drastic happens, they’re likely to face in the Eastern Conference Finals again. This is an opportunity to land the first jab.
For most teams, the regular season opener is a chance to really open it up, stretch their legs and see what the team is made of. For these two teams, it’s going to be a dogfight and I fully expect a playoff atmosphere in Miami.
The Heat will receive their championship rings before the game, and while the Celtics will be in their locker room, you don’t think they aren’t going to be thinking about it?
I see a tough game that comes down to the last few minutes. James and the Heat hit the big shots when they need them and get to the free-throw line with reckless abandon. The Celtics miss the big shots, including a real stinker from Pierce. Allen and the Heat close it out late at the free-throw line in a hotly-contested match of two Eastern Conference powerhouses.
Prediction: Miami Heat 98, Boston Celtics 93
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