The Boston Celtics have no chance to win the Eastern Conference Finals. The odd thing is that this fact doesn’t matter.
After the results of the first game of the series, it seems that everyone can agree that they’re too old and too injured to stop LeBron James and the Miami Heat from advancing to their second straight NBA Finals.
However, despite Boston’s bleak chances, this series has much more to it than meets the eye. All of the national media’s coverage of the first game might indicate that the Celtics are just wasting everyone’s time by slowing down LeBron’s long-overdue coronation, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead, how Boston plays over the rest of the series will have a lasting effect on the remainder of the playoffs.
First of all, it deserves to be noted that the Heat’s convincing 93-79 victory in the first game is likely no indication of how the rest of the series will play out. It was to be expected that a team with as many aging stars as Boston would be tired out just two days after a grueling Game 7 against Philadelphia, which should make Miami’s dominance a little more predictable.
Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers even recently suggested playing guard Ray Allen every other game in the series to help him be more effective, so it’s not reasonable to expect the team to play well with such little rest. Many seemed shocked by how thoroughly the Heat dismantled the Celtics in the first game, when it really seemed like more of a foregone conclusion given their injury concerns.
While Boston should definitely perform better in subsequent games, it’s merely a bonus if that improved performance translates to winning the series. Many of the team’s aging stars have talked about how this is their last shot at a championship, and while that may be true, it just doesn’t seem likely that they’re healthy enough to beat the Heat, let alone the Western Conference champion.
Instead, they may hold the key to whether or not this is LeBron James’ year to win it all. If the Heat can cruise through this series in four or five games, they’ll be infinitely more rested for the Finals, which may prove to be a significant advantage against whichever team emerges from what looks to be a brutal conference final out west.