Is The Miami Heat’s Matchup Against The Boston Celtics The Biggest Playoff Series Of LeBron James’s Career?
This is the matchup we’ve all been waiting for. While the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs have featured a number of interesting matchups—including the Memphis Grizzlies giving the San Antonio Spurs a very real run for their crown and the New Orleans Hornets holding steady with the Los Angeles Lakers—the second round is where it’s at. Especially in the Eastern Conference, where the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics advanced to the next level easily to set up the most important matchup of the year.
Ultimately, this matchup could very well turn out to be the best series of the entire playoffs. Even if the long-awaited Kobe Bryant/LeBron James NBA Finals matchup happens, this will be the one that has the most consequences moving forward. This is the matchup that will show once and for all whether or not LeBron’s Decision last summer was worth all the aggravation that he put us through.
Everyone expected Bron-Bron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh to breeze by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. And that’s exactly what they did. People expected the New York Knicks to give the Celtics a little bit more of a matchup problem, but they too got the easy sweep despite the best efforts of Carmelo Anthony. So now, the world gets to find out: Are the Heat a legitimate ‘chip contender—or do the Celtics have what it takes to make one more run to the Finals?
But that’s not all that’s at stake here. The Heat/Celtics matchup is also the biggest playoff series of LeBron’s career for one simple reason: He needs to get this W to validate all the moves he’s made both on and off the court. A victory over Boston means that he made the right call leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers after last year. It means that he was right to team up with Wade and Bosh to form what many think will be a dynasty eventually. It takes him off the hot seat for a change and makes him the favorite to lead the Heat to the NBA Finals—even if Derrick Rose and the Bulls manage to get by the winner of the Atlanta Hawks/Orlando Magic matchup in the second round. In essence, this is Bron’s NBA Finals. A win gets a lot of his haters off his back, while a loss makes him look just as bad as any of his past playoff series losses as a member of the Cavs.
It’s the one reason we’re so excited to see what LeBron can do in this round of the playoffs. Our prediction: The Heat don’t win the title this year, but they do get by Boston. And by doing so, they force Boston to make a few changes for next season and the Heat become the legitimate frontrunner to come out of the Eastern Conference for—at least!—the next five years.
But we also wouldn’t be shocked to see the Celtics put up a fight and make things interesting. They are, after all, the reigning Eastern Conference champs. But in order to get the respect he desires, that’s exactly what LeBron needs— a long, drawn-out series that shows that he can lead a team to a title. He needs to beat a great team to show us that the Heat are more than just a team that’s legendary on paper. He needs to win this series. And he needs to understand that from the first tip-off.
It’s go time for LeBron. Who else thinks he’s finally ready to show up?