Heat players watched last night’s Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Game 7 with a clear rooting interest they would never admit — Miami thoroughly dominates the Sixers — but knowing either opponent would be a huge underdog in the NBA Eastern Conference finals starting here Monday night.
Celtics or Sixers? That’s like telling a hungry pit bull he gets the toy poodle or the shih tzu. Fine with either, thanks. No wrong answer.
The Heat owns the 76ers, with an 11-1 record vs. Philly the past two seasons including a first-round playoff sweep last year. The Sixers are younger, healthier and more athletic than Boston and also are blessed with a strong bench. What they are not is a team with any individual players who really scare you. Miami matches up exquisitely with Philadelphia, which is so offensively challenged that “76ers” often reflects their point total.
Boston? The Celtics won the season series with Miami, 3-1, yeah, but don’t let that fool you. The wheezing Leprechauns are old, hobbled and don’t have the athleticism to run with MVP LeBron James and red-hot Dwyane Wade in a long series. Kevin Garnett still leads the NBA in scowling (the Alonzo Mourning Cup) but otherwise is a man in decline, as are limping Paul Pierce and the ghost of Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo must take over games for the Celtics to have any chance vs. the Heat.
No matter who won last night, then, the next opponent didn’t figure to give the Heat even as much trouble as the recently dispatched Pacers.
Celtics or Sixers? No problem.
That’s like telling me I’ll get either steak or lobster. And I’m fat ’n hungry.Stephen Ross Matt Moore Joe Philbin’s