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Celtics vs Heat Round One NBA Playoffs Predictions

The Garden Report previewed the Celtics-Heat first round series after the Heat defeated the Bulls on Friday in the NBA Play-In Tournament. Bobby Manning and A. Sherrod Blakely discussed the series below, with Sherrod expecting a quick series and Bobby giving an injured Miami team the benefit of the doubt about extending it.

Here are the rest of the team’s predictions.

Bobby Manning: Celtics in 6 

This year feels different. It’s hard to believe this series will play out any easier than it has in the past. The 2022 Celtics played suffocating defense and needed seven games to put Miami away with a 3-0 lead. Last year’s Boston team entered following a 2-3 comeback and fell behind 0-3. The Heat rarely lay done and go away, and while they’re as undermanned as ever with Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier out, possibly for the entire series, and Duncan Robinson banged-up, they’ll zone, blitz, pull, tug and do anything to stay close. Maybe that means four close games. They’ll certainly get blown out twice, maybe more. The talent disparity is that stark. It’s just impossible for me to think it’ll be easy against this team. It never is. If it is, this year will truly look different.

Watch the margins. Offensive rebounds, shot attempts, free throws and how many threes Miami can unload and hit. Erik Spoelstra might be the Heat’s biggest advantage, and he’ll find all the little ways to keep games close.

A. Sherrod Blakely: Celtics in 4 

Boston has shown all season that they are different than past Celtics teams that gave away winnable playoff games and, in some instances, entire series. Without Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier, the Heat’s chances of winning a game, let alone the series, are super slim. Celtics move on with a 4-0 sweep.

John Zannis: Celtics in 6 

On paper, this shouldn’t be close. The Heat just don’t have the horses, especially with Jimmy Butler out. So this really becomes a matchup of Spo vs Joe. Will ‘Mazzulla ball’ work during the playoffs or will the Celtics have to adjust their style of play as teams adjust to them over the course of a 7 game series?

I expect Eric Spoelstra to change up defensive tactics quarter by quarter. Some zone, some heavy switching, no switching, blitzing Tatum and Brown to get the ball out of their hands. A total kitchen sink approach designed to knock the FAR more talented Celtics out of rhythm and hope Miami shooters can get hot like they did in last year’s Conference Finals.

And it’ll work, to some degree. Boston hasn’t played a meaningful game in two months and it will take time to knock the rust off. That’ll allow the Heat to grab a couple of games, and tick the Miami PTSD meter among panicky Celtics fans up to 11.

Josue Pavon: Celtics in 5 

The Celtics won’t take a shorthanded Heat team lightly, they’ve learned their lessons from blowing leads, and losing games to inferior opponents. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for a Celtics core, who unlike their top competitors, are entering the postseason at full strength with the expectation that they should coast through the East.

Miami’s defense will make the Celtics work for every win. We won’t see too many blowout wins but in the end the offensive firepower between Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kristaps Porzingis, coupled with Derrick White’s production, pose too many mismatches for Miami’s defense to keep in a best-of-7 series.

Jimmy Toscano: Celtics in 4 

Maybe I’m a fool. Ok, I am a fool. But even so, I just don’t see the Heat being able to compete against this year’s Celtics team. Of course there’s always the chance the C’s sleepwalk through a game 3 or 4, but I’m hopeful they will take care of business and sweep this Butler-less Heat team. This should not be close to a series.



Bobby Manning

Boston Celtics beat reporter for CLNS Media and host of the Garden Report Celtics Post Game Show. NBA national columnist for Boston Sports Journal. Contributor to SB Nation's CelticsBlog. Host of the Dome Theory Sports and Culture Podcast on CLNS. Syracuse University 2020.

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