There’s a new narrative emerging, one that started emanating from all the ESPN outlets as soon as the championship co-favorite Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated. It goes as follows:
This NBA championship won’t matter as much, due to all the funky, unfamiliar variables when compared to “normal” seasons.
That’s not fair, of course. As Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted weeks ago, there shouldn’t be an "asterisk" on this season – there should be special commendation!
Indeed, this may be the hardest title to win, considering the bubble quarantine, and it will show who has the most stable organization and the most connected team.
The Heat, with all business Jimmy Butler as their leader and a cadre of hard-working, overlooked budding stars, have thrived in this environment, and that continued as they rallied back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in overtime.
Stretching it to 2-0 won’t be simple, however. These teams are incredibly evenly matched, and the Celtics have adjustments they can make.
Here are three adjustments to expect:
1. Don’t let Goran Dragic cook:
Dragic has played like a top-5 point guard in the bubble, ever since being inserted back into his old starting role, averaging 22 points, five rebounds and five assists. He started hot in Game 1, and did finish with 29, but the Celtics slowed him some when they trapped him high or used longer defenders on him. Expect more of that in Game 2, so Dragic doesn’t keep cooking Kemba Walker.
2. More high screen & roll for Walker:
Heat fans were terrified of Walker prior to the series, mostly due to the damage he did in a first round series while with Charlotte in 2016. But Walker shot just 36 percent in that series, and shot even worse in Game 1. The difference is the Celtics have enough other options to get him going, and it says here they will. Expect him to stop settling for so many three-pointers (he was 1-of-9) and to get to his shorter stepback.
3. No lapses:
Miami got to most of the 50-50 balls late in the game and that, along with a couple of gutsy Tyler Herro threes, an impossible Jimmy Butler finish and an all-time Bam Adebayo block, proved to be the difference. But the Heat could have been had if Boston had paid more attention to detail in the closing minutes. Figure on Brad Stevens getting them ready, for what should be a long series.
The Better Bet in Game 2:
Celtics win by 7
-- written by Juicy J