2023 NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS PREDICTIONS
2 Boston Celtics vs 8 Miami Heat (Tariq McDowell)
The Heat and Celtics are meeting yet again in the NBA playoffs. A true eastern conference rivalry renewed with an NBA Finals appearance on the line. There aren’t as many questions in this series, since we have seen these teams matchup multiple times in the last four years. Can Miami score enough to keep up? The Celtics have made 200 threes in 13 games, compared to Miami’s 147 in 11 games. The Heat are going to try their best to muck it up, make it ugly, play physically, and be gritty. The Celtics have a 118.1 offensive rating, while the Heat have a 115.7 offensive rating. The Heat lead the playoffs in deflections, loose balls recovered, and screen assists per game. The bench has scored 31 points per game, which has been huge, considering they lost Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo early in the first round. Will the Celtics clean up the sloppy mistakes in the 4th quarter? Can Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo reach another level? They have been a great duo in the playoffs since 2020, but they have fallen short of their ultimate goal of winning an NBA championship. We know Jimmy can raise his level, can he finish that off in the big moments? Can Bam show that he is not only one of the best centers, but one of the best players in the league. Which team’s role players contribute the most? Derrick White, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Rob Will versus Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, and Caleb Martin. Which guys make the winning plays, the timely shots? Can the Heat slow down the juggernaut of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown? Tatum is coming off a historic 51-point game 7 performance. Both players have struggled at different points, Miami won’t allow them to play the way they have at times and still find their way into the Finals. Tatum’s first-half struggles and Brown’s second-half disappearances can’t happen for them to reach their title aspirations. Can the Heat get the three-point shot to fall at a higher clip? The season series was tied 2-2, with Miami winning the last two.
X-Factor: Bam Adebayo
Heat in 7 (I’m not picking against my guys again)
2 Boston Celtics vs 8 Miami Heat (Jacob Karabtsos)
The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat meet AGAIN in the Eastern Conference Finals… this time with completely different postseason stories. The Heat lost their first play-in game to Atlanta, proceeded to upset the 1-seed Bucks, and wiped the floor with the Knicks. The Celtics were supposed to dominate and run the East once Milwaukee was gone, but in typical Boston fashion, they did the opposite. Lost two games to Trae Young, and lost game one against an Embiid-less Sixers squad, just about everything you’d expect from this team. When they are good, they are the best team in the league, when they are bad, it’s REALLY bad.
These familiar foes are playing their 3rd series against each other and the result is always the same, physical, intense, and often sloppy basketball. But there is a difference this year, with the Celtics adding Brogdon and the Heat losing Herro, a coveted Celtics assassin, the talent disparity is very large in favor of Boston. The keys for both teams are simple, for Boston, Jayson Tatum has to be better than Jimmy, he can’t have any disappearing acts in this one. For Miami, they need Strus, Robinson, Vincent, and Lowry to hit shots, you cannot beat the Celtics with bad guard play. We never know which Boston team is going to show up throughout a seven-game series, but I think Game 6 was a wake-up call, give me the Celtics in 5.
X Factor: Jayson Tatum Being Consistent
Celtics in 5
2 Boston Celtics vs 8 Miami Heat (Bryce Warner)
The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat meet once again in the conference finals, the third time in four seasons. This could be considered the rubber match because the teams have gone 1-1 in the previous series against each other. Honestly could be considered a modern-day rivalry. The stars from each team have had some great moments in these playoffs. Jayson Tatum is coming off of an insane 51-point game seven to knock off the Philadelphia 76ers. In the series against Philly, Tatum averaged 29 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5 assists. He had some off nights in this series but made his points count when the Celtics needed them the most. In game six, Tatum had one of the better fourth-quarter performances in these playoffs, forcing a game seven on the road. Jaylen Brown has continued to play at a high level as well. In the series against Philly, Brown averaged 22.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Boston’s defense during this series was a major factor in their success. The Miami Heat took care of business against the New York Knicks. The Knicks put up a fight but it wasn’t enough for the veteran Heat squad led by Jimmy Butler. Butler averaged 24.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6 assists. Butler had an amazing first round knocking off the Milwaukee Bucks, but slowed down a bit after suffering an ankle injury. Butler still led the team in scoring and to another conference finals appearance. Bam Adebayo has played well during these playoffs too. Being a force down low, Adebayo has shown why he’s one of the better bigs in the league. This matchup will be a fun one to watch. A young talented Boston squad ready to get back to the finals against a veteran Miami team who’s ready to make yet another upset. On any given night the Heat can be lethal from deep with the number of shooters they have on their team. But Boston is a well-rounded squad and is one of the best defensive teams in the league. I think this series goes at least six games with Boston making it back to the finals. It won’t be an easy six games for the Celtics, but I think with the hunger they showed in the Philly series and the drive to want to get back to the finals, they get the job done.
X Factor: Jayson Tatum
Celtics in 6