As the playoffs draw near, it’s now more likely than ever that the Celtics play the Miami Heat in the first round. Here’s how Celtics Hub’s Zach Lowe put it:
Let’s review: The Bucks and Heat are tied at 45-35, but Milwaukee owns the tie-breaker. Still, the Heat have the inside track for the 5th seed because of their schedule. Their two remaining games are at Philly and a home finale against the Nets. The Heat should win out and finish 47-35.
The Bucks, meanwhile, host Atlanta tonight and finish up at Boston on Wednesday. That’s a much tougher schedule, and the Hawks, if they care about the 3rd seed, will play to win tonight against the Bucks.
And if Atlanta does win at Milwaukee? The Bucks will likely finish 6th and face Atlanta in the first round.
Lowe prefers the Bucks, mostly because they are a different team without injured center Andrew Bogut (is injured even the right word for the decimation that happened to his arm?). Their offensive rebounding has gone down, way down, their defense isn’t as staunch, and their offense has become a perimeter-fest.
John from Red’s Army prefers to play the Bucks, too:
The Heat don’t scare me… but it’ll be a tougher series than the Bucks will be. And any time Dwyane Wade is in the mix, then you’ve got a fight on your hands.
Me? Call me crazy, but I want the Bucks. Neither team scares me, and I don’t think even Dwyane Wade is enough to beat the Celtics. A couple games, sure. But not a whole series. Because of Wade, it’s easier to say you want Milwaukee: they’ve got no stars, an injured best player, and start Kurt Thomas. And they don’t have Wade.
But a series against Milwaukee would be so physically demanding. I fully expect the Celtics would beat either Miami or Milwaukee, but the Bucks would take more out of them. The Bucks get after you. When you play them, there are no easy layups, no open jumpers. They throw elbows. They push you to the floor. They’ll throw their hips into you on a screen, toss their shoulder into you on a drive to the bucket. I’m not insulting them at all: In my eyes, that toughness is a great quality to have. That toughness would leave the Celtics wiped out, even if the series only went five games.
That toughness is also why I want Miami, and not Milwaukee, in the first round. Give me the softer team any day of the week. Just make sure you double-team the hell out of Wade. That man is a killer.
And, if Boston loses to either of them in the first round, don’t forget to blame my overconfidence.