MIAMI - The Celtics have long been that tough, veteran team that could give the Miami Heat trouble in the playoffs.
They did it two seasons ago by eliminating Miami from the postseason, but Dwyane Wade was alone on that team.
Last year, the men in green were expected to give the Heat a challenge. Of course, with LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Wade leading the way, they didn't. Miami took out the Celtics in five games.
Now, the two teams are meeting for the third straight year in the playoffs. That means Boston is three years older, and that age is beginning to show.
Yes, Rajon Rondo is still in his prime and one of the most dynamic point guards in the NBA, but Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are all showing signs of age.
Allen and Pierce have been banged up and inconsistent, and Garnett, while still productive, has become a jump shooting big man.
Simply put, they just don't have the energy to keep up at the high pace I expect from Wade and LeBron. It's that intensity that even a much younger and active Pacers team couldn't keep up with last round.
Boston catches a break with the Heat missing Chris Bosh. Bosh is very doubtful to see any action in this series while recovering from an abdominal strain.
But, as the dynamic duo proved against Indiana, the Heat can rely on Wade and LeBron to get it done, as long as a third option does something.
Whether Mike Miller, Shane Battier, or Udonis Haslem, the Heat just needs a little bit to help out the two superstars. I think they'll get that again in this series.
If Miami had Bosh, I'd say the Heat in five games, just like last season. With Bosh missing, I wouldn't be surprised if the Celtics stretched it to six games.
In the end, it won't matter. The Heat will advance to the NBA finals for the second straight year.
Heat in six games. Enjoy the action.
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