First and foremost, the Heat can score. Erik Spoelstra has developed multiple weapons on the floor and can run things through multiple ball handler. This offense is diverse. The breakout rookie of this team is Tyler Herro. Herro can run an efficient two man game with Bam Adebayo. The two of them in the pick and roll and dribble handoffs has proven effective. Bam can rim run and Herro shoot on the move. This duo is dangerous especially in multiple options.
The next obvious weapon for the Heat is Jimmy Butler. Butler is unique in the fact that the only stat he cares about is the win column. He can score 4 or 40 and be totally happy. Jimmy is a complete package and can get buckets anywhere on the floor. He knows he can dish to a shooting Duncan Robinson, or the aforementioned Tyler Herro. Butler also doesn’t need to be a facilitator while he has Goran Dragic on the floor. Dragic has proven to be and effective point guard in the half court, setting up the offense. In addition Dragic is a decent 3 point shooter and good mid-range shooter. Expect this Miami back court to target the smaller Kemba Walker in the high pick and roll.
However, the Celtics defense is no slouch. Celtics have advantages on switches in the 2-4 positions purely because of size and athleticism. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can keep up with anyone and Marcus Smart at the 1 or 2 is the best defensive guard in the league. Brad Stevens has always made defense a priority for this team and it shows with effective rotations. The Celtics main defensive option will be how to defend pick and rolls. Switches are effective but Miami can rim run and make good passes. Expect Brad Stevens to show different looks throughout the series to keep the Heat guessing.
Defensively the Heat can be brick wall. They rotate and rotate fast. Erik Spoelstra has a reputation for not putting guys on the floor unless they contribute defensively. His coaching has shown most effective in his young guys. They all know where to be as soon as they need to be there. Celtics will need to be precise and quick to keep up offensively.
Speaking of Celtics offense, this team has as many, if not more, weapons. Tatum proved to be the best player on the court in the Toronto series, averaging 24 and 10, shooting 40% from 3. Right behind him is Brown with numbers right below. The key for this Celtics offense though, is Kemba Walker. The team plays noticeably better when Kemba is gets going. His scoring ability helps the whole team. He’s a master of the mid range which opens up the whole floor from 3. His pull up shots in transition are great ways to keep the pace going and to keep the blood of the team flowing. Tatum is the leader of this offense but Kemba is the heart beat in these playoffs.
There is one thing that can take pressure off of Kemba. If Gordon Hayward can come back and look like himself, this series becomes much shorter. Hayward not only ads some scoring but playmaking. Adding another option on the floor stretches Miami paper thin on their defensive schemes. Gordon getting Boston 15 and 6, tips the series in Boston’s favor.
Overall this will be a fun series, possibly the best of the bubble. It will come down to coaching ultimately, as both teams have so much talent. Both will stick to there game plans and only get as creative as they have too. At the end of the day though they’re going to have to trust their guys.
(Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)