This is, on paper, a very even series. The Celtics’ average per game point differential is +3.6; Miami’s is +2.3, but the difference can be almost entirely explained away by Boston’s early-season 23-5 rampage. Since then, their point differentials have been about the same.
Boston’s Pythagorean record (a Bill James-ian stat Basketball-Reference uses to predict record based on points scored and allowed): 52-30; Miami’s: 48-34.
And remember: If not for that incredible Paul Pierce to Rajon Rondo inbounds lob that tied Miami at the buzzer on Jan. 6—a game the C’s went on to win in OT—Boston would have finished with 49 wins, Miami with 48.
For those of you who are unaware, per game point differential is normally as good an indicator as any for playoff success. Of course, it doesn’t take into account that Boston will play its starters more minutes, or Boston’s postseason experience, or the three regular season matchups Boston swept (about which coach Erik Spoelstra said, “We feel we’re a different team now. All three games were competitive, so it is a little bit deceptive.”), or any other factor that has led most of the basketball world to predict a Celtics victory.
Regardless of what you think of point differential, the Heat have also won 12 out of 13 games. They haven’t really beaten anyone of note (Charlotte is the Heat’s most notable win over that span), but beating the teams on your schedule is all anyone can ask for. And they seem to be confident, too.
“We are battled-tested now, ready,” Quentin Richardson said, and Michael Beasley added, “I think we’ve got a pretty good chance.”