I’ve never been so confused heading into a postseason. Should I have hope? Should I have given up a long time ago? Do the Celtics have another gear? Will they lose in the first round? Win a championship? Somewhere in between?
Anything could happen tonight. Anything. And that’s what makes watching sports so fun.
Here’s a breakdown of the first-round matchups. Enjoy Game One tonight, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs. Carlos Arroyo
It’s a waste of my time to write why this is a mismatch. Rondo is one of the most electric players in the NBA, while Arroyo is mediocre at best. Rondo can lead his teams to victories, while the only thing Arroyo can lead his team in is prayer. Even if Rondo’s puking on the floor because of his illness, he should be able to run circles around Arroyo.
But there is a twist: Doc Rivers said he expects Rondo to be defended by Dwyane Wade. Either way, no matter who’s defending Rondo — and I feel that way about any player in the league, not just the players Miami can offer — he should have his way so long as he stays aggressive.
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade
Wade, simply put, is a monster. He’s a beast, a creature, an animal, whatever you want to call him. The Celtics will not be able to stop him, no matter who they throw at him. Ray could play terrific defense and still get torched. Ray’s job will be to contain Wade, make things difficult, and hopefully limit him to 30 ppg or so. Against Wade, that’s all you can ask for.
On the other end, if Ray gets hot he has the ability to switch a series on its side. When Ray drains three-balls left and right, the Celtics are a different team, a better team. Of course, Ray usually gets hot when the Celtics are playing their best. It’s like a chicken-or-the-egg type thing. But I don’t care what comes first; I just want to hear the sweet sound of Ray’s jumper splashing through the bucket, time after time.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce vs. Quentin Richardson
This is where the Celtics have their biggest advantage. Richardson couldn’t hold Pierce’s jock strap if someone laid it in his hand. Not that he’d want to, anyway, but still. If Pierce is healthy, and his recent output says that he is, he should murder Richardson. On the other end, Richardson won’t be much of a threat.
Power Forward: Kevin Garnett vs. Michael Beasley
The single most important matchup in the series. If Garnett was 2008 Garnett, this would be no contest. Not only would Garnett score at will, but Beasley wouldn’t do anything all series. Unfortunately, this is 2010, and Garnett’s a shell of his former self. Beasley is now tough for Garnett to keep up with, because Beasley has speed to take advantage of KG’s ever-dwindling mobility.
Still, Garnett should be able to score over Beasley at will. If Garnett is aggressive in the post, this is a matchup that should really favor him. Beasley doesn’t have the height or defensive chops to stick with an aggressive KG.
Center: Kendrick Perkins vs. Jermaine O’Neal
Neither of these guys will get much offense run for them. Both are there for height, defense, and rebounding. Perkins, surprisingly, has killed the Heat so far this season, but Doc Rivers and Perk both attribute that to the Heat helping off Perk and not the matchup. This matchup should be a wash. Neither guy will light the world on fire, but both will be solid.
The Celtics are deeper and vastly more talented. On paper, that is. On the court, their Heat counterparts might have outplayed them. Udonis Haslem is a good sixth man, Dorell Wright is starting to come into his own, and Joel Anthony, well, takes up space. For the Celtics, inconsistency is the name of the game. And someone needs to tell Sheed, “Playoffs don’t lie.”
The Heat don’t have enough to take down Boston. Not in four games out of seven, not in the playoffs. Dwyane Wade is an unstoppable force, but doesn’t have enough help to take down the Celtics, no matter how old and ragged they have looked. The Celtics may not have a flip to switch, but won’t need it against Miami.
Celtics in 6