I am torn between these two teams.
Actually, I already hated the Boston Celtics versus the Toronto Raptors matchup. Boston is my favorite team but Toronto proved to everyone that they can survive without Kawhi Leonard. I hate rooting for Boston when Kyle Lowry is doing his darndest to keep things in check.
What can I say? Even back then, I rooted for the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen Chicago Bulls during the 90s and when they had Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, for the Orlando Magic when they still had Penny Hardaway, Detroit when they had Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Ben Wallace, and of course, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce’s Boston Celtics.
Now, the Boston Celtics versus the Miami Heat matchup sucks. I liked rooting for the Heat when they only had Dwyane Wade. When some of the league's superstars took their game to South Beach, I went to full “Boston fan” mode. Danny Ainge is a good GM and I bet he learned a lot from Red Auerbach. Acquiring Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from those Sam Presti-like trades from way way back is doing wonders for the squad. Ditto for the move that sent Kemba Walker to Beantown. Meanwhile, it’s hard to ignore that Miami is unleashing insane damage on their foes. Bam Adebayo is hella good and ditto for their other pieces like Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson. I may not be a fan of Jimmy Butler, but I understand why he’s the main man.
And Erik Spoelstra is Filipino… and low-key a top coach “of all-time” with how he made this ragtag core work. This is a team that does not have Lebron James, Wade, and Chris Bosh. In some ways, it’s like Butler, Adebayo, and a couple of Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem clones. But his strat works. And like my argument with Leo Austria as a masterful tactician, the fact that Spo can massage the biggest of NBA multi-million, multi-layer egos is a feat in itself. Pat Riley has made Spoelstra his centerpiece that he can just sit back and allow his protégé to shine. I mean… how many times have we seen reports from the yesteryears on how Riley wants to return to coaching?
So Miami won Game One of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Adebayo played extremely well and to cap off his brilliance, he stopped Jayson Tatum from jamming the ball to the rack. As I said, I hate this. On the other hand, I am looking forward to the best of the East to surprise the West. For years, they have been proposing for the league to combine the East with the West come playoff time. I thought this is a logistical nightmare… but seeing how the All-Star Games have worked, maybe it’s time for the league to change things up.
But to say the East is weak is just insane. Sure, I expect a big-time turn of events next year especially with how the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Phoenix Suns have evolved and the frightening bounce back of the Golden State Warriors. Teams like Boston, Miami, Toronto, and even the Philadelphia 76ers with a new coach can go head-to-head with the other conference.
The Milwaukee Bucks? They are still up there but it’s hard for this team to move to bigger teams because they are a small market team. The fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo emerged as a top star in their city is fine but I get why his version of Pippen is Khris Middleton. Unless they move Wisconsin to California or at least give the city a brand new cityscape, I have no idea how they can entice the big names.
Well, at least they don’t have an unlikeable owner like the New York Knicks.
It’s kind of puzzling how a team of that big of a reach can have a decade-long playoff drought.