Boston Celtics Are Still the Team to Beat in the NBA Eastern Conference

Craig FarrellCorrespondent IAugust 12, 2010

Ever since LeBron James took his “talents to South Beach,” there has been endless talk about how the dream team in Miami are going to rake in NBA Championship after NBA Championship.

What a lot of people are forgetting is the Boston Celtics are the Eastern Conference Champions, and Miami has done nothing just yet to prove that will change.

The Miami Heat certainly made three major free agent acquisitions to re-sign Dwayne Wade and bring LeBron James and Chris Bosh in as well, but they are not the only team that has been proactive in the offseason.

When you look at the Miami Heat, it is easy to see the strength of the team, but it is even easier to see the team’s weaknesses.

Miami’s holy trinity makes up three of the starting five positions, and the two positions left unfilled are the worry. The Heat are very weak at both point guard and center. The Orlando Magic, who will be one of Miami’s biggest rivals just happen to be at their most skilled in these positions.

Jameer Nelson is a quality point guard, while Dwight Howard is the best big man in the business. Miami could combine Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas and they would still not be up to the standard of Dwight Howard.

Nelson is better than any point guard that Miami has on their roster, and he is also better than any potential guard they could bring in due to salary cap restraints.

The Magic signed free agent guard Chris Duhon and retained the services of Jason Williams, all of who are better than the crop of point guards which Miami has on their roster currently.

The Boston Celtics—who lost the NBA Finals last year in Game Seven—have been grossly overlooked, and both Miami and Orlando are considered favorites to win the Eastern Conference ahead of the current Eastern Conference Champions.

The majority of people have jumped on the Miami bandwagon, but the wheels may just buckle. Boston has their own triple threat, plus one.

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo makes up Boston’s triple threat, plus one.They are, man for man, just as competitive and hungry as Miami is; the only exception is that they have a quality point guard pulling all the strings behind them in Rondo.

Along with Boston’s aforementioned four players, they are stacked at center. Boston is huge inside, while that is a major weakness for Miami. Offseason signings of Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal, along with the drafting of Turkish center Semih Erden has added great size to an already large Boston group of Glen “Baby” Davis and Kendrick Perkins.

Both O’Neals will offer Boston great depth in the paint and will also alleviate the pressure of not having Perkins until around February. It will also allow Perkins to come back slow and focus on being 100 percent fit and ready for the playoffs.

Boston is Miami’s biggest threat, and their starting lineup will cause massive defensive concerns. The Celtics will take Miami man for man. Pierce will take Wade. Allen will take LeBron. Garnett will take Bosh. However it is not so simple for the Heat.

If they take the Celtics trio man for man, that will leave Rondo facing a mediocre point guard, at best. Rondo will be going into his fifth year as a pro, and he has excelled in production from year to year.

If the Heat rolls Wade down to guard Rondo, the ripple effect leaves Pierce facing below-par opposition. Boston’s bench was poor last year, but by bringing both Jermaine and Shaq in, along with the re-signing of Nate Robinson, the Celtics backup are greatly strengthened.

The Celtics will also have enough cap space to try and fit another piece into their team, due to Rasheed Wallace deciding to retire. The Heat have three top quality players playing on a five-man team, while the Celtics have five top quality players in a five-man team.

The Celtics are the Eastern Conference Champions for a very good reason: they are a solid team with a great team ethic and mentality. The jury is still out on the Heat.


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