I recently reached out to our team of fans in the East Coast to get their thoughts on the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Heat. If you’re wondering why they are called “expert fans” in the title it’s because this group knows basketball! When you think about it, the only real difference between the experts on some of the bigger sites is that they may have access to ask players questions. But, they watch the same games we all do; heck ya our team are experts!
Here are their thoughts.
Was the ending of the Clippers season the greatest collapse in the history of the NBA when you consider they were up 3-1 and the expectations they had?
Charlie Aucella: No. At least not in the traditional way. For me it was The Lakers caving in to the Houston Rockets in the Conference Finals in 1986. It should have been the Lakers my Celtics beat to win NBA Finals that year. The match-up was so expected and it was a massive let down when it didn’t happen. Also, I can’t place any achievements or catastrophes in a “greatest or worst of all time” designation due to the Bubble. It’s a definite asterisk year.
Haig Yeterian: I’ve only been a semi-serious basketball fan for about 5 years now. But from what I read regarding other years/teams, the Clippers losing seems like one of the worst losses in an NBA playoff series. I do not know if I can blame them completely though. Yes, they had a great team and expectations were high, but this was the first time all these guys were together, the chemistry maybe wasn’t right. They had to bring in Marcus Morris at the end of the season which complicates things a bit, and of course, we can’t forget that they had to play in the bubble situation with no fans or normal circumstances. Overall this does not look good for Doc as he is now the only coach to lose three, 3-1 leads, and this will definitely be a mark on his resume.
Daniel Romo: Yes. Having leads in game 5,6,7 and still losing a series with the reigning Finals MVP and Top 3 MVP candidate last year is probably the greatest collapse in NBA History.
What was the bigger surprise, no Bucks or no Clippers in the Conference Finals?
Haig Yeterian: If you asked me before the bubble, I would say no Clippers in the Conference Finals would be a big surprise. Although the Bucks were a great team led by Giannis Antetokounmpo , it was clear that they didn’t have enough firepower to win big games. If I remember correctly, the Heat was doing well against them in the regular season. After the series that Denver had with the Jazz, it became clear that they were a legit team with a chance to upset the Clippers. To answer your question though after all has passed, I would say the Bucks not being in the Conference Finals is more of a surprise. They were clearly the best in the East so you’d really expect them to be in this last series playing against the Celtics or Raptors. The Heat just really turned it on all of a sudden and now they are looking really good. Hindsight is 20/20, hard to believe everything that is happening really.
Daniel Romo: The Clippers are the bigger surprise due to the star talent on their roster and they were probably most everyone’s pick to win it all.
Who will have the bigger impact and why, Jayson Tatum or Marcus Smart?
Charlie Aucella: Jayson Tatum. He will have the bigger impact because he has to. Smart will have a serious impact to be sure, but it will have to be Tatum to step up and close the deal. If he doesn’t, it will merely be an after the fact discussion on who impacted the failure to win.
Haig Yeterian: Jayson Tatum is one of my favorite players. He has the ability to create his own shot and his moves on offense look very purposeful. A key piece to this Celtics team no doubt, but I don’t know if he has a bigger impact than Marcus Smart. It took me a few years to realize how good Marcus Smart actually is. I would get frustrated with his shooting or some of his decisions, but he is one of the only players that you can count on to get a defensive stop. The media loves talking about guys that can get you a bucket in crunch time but nobody talks about how important having a defensive genius like Smart is. He really lives up to his name in that department; how many times have we heard commentators say at the end of games “Wow! An incredible game-saving play by Marcus Smart!” He has begun to show some impressive work on offense as well, and I hope he continues this good form.
Daniel Romo: Jayson Tatum because Deuce is in the bubble. On a serious note, he is a top 2 player in this series and has been the Celtics best offensive player throughout these playoffs. Smart will obviously make some huge defensive plays, but the Celtics will not win without Tatum and this is his chance to ascend into stardom.
Who will have the bigger impact and why, Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo?
Charlie Aucella: Jimmy Butler. Bam must have some kind of impact, But Jimmy’s will be much bigger.
Haig Yeterian: This one is a bit easier for me as I think Jimmy Butler is just a better player overall, and for that he will have a bigger impact. He is a clutch scorer and makes the people better around him, he is also a very good defender and willing passer. We hear stories about how he is up at 3AM to go training and his energy radiates to his teammates. Yes, Bam had that great block to finish the game and puts in lots of energy, but where do we think he may have learned some of those things? Looking at you Jimmy Buckets.
Daniel Romo: Bam Adebayo because he can guard the opposing guards very well and he is very gifted defensively.
Who is the Celtics X-Factor and why?
Haig Yeterian: Initially I would think Marcus Smart is the X-factor for the Celtics but I have to give this one to another fan favorite in Jaylen Brown. Coming into the league with a poor jump shot from three, really only a defensive stopper, he has come a long way to now be a key player in the team. He makes some crazy plays and it looks like some Marcus Smart is rubbing off on him. I’d also like to give a shout out to Daniel Theis, as he is playing some big minutes and is one of the few true centers that the Celtics have right now. He has a tough job ahead of him guarding some of these athletes like Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder, and Duncan Robinson on switches and he will have to try hard not to get into foul trouble.
Who is the Heat X-Factor and why?
Charlie Aucella: Bam Adebayo. Bam has to eat up any combo of Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter or “The Time Lord’”Robert Williams. If he hits his shots as well, he could be the stabilizing force holding it all together. Adebayo failing is not an option.
Haig Yeterian: Again my lack of knowledge of the Heat players will show here, but I would like to think the Goran Dragic is a bit of an X-factor for them. This is a point guard league right now, (which I think is fair to say considering LeBron wanted to play it so badly) and having Dragic’s experience is impossible to replicate for another team. I mean he got to play on a great Heat team in the past, and his salt and pepper hair is starting to make some of the younger guys jealous.
Daniel Romo: Bold pick, but Jae Crowder: The Celtics will probably leave him open for 3 and he is going to need to hit those shots. His defense on Jaylen/Jayson will be huge as well.
Which team has the coaching advantage and why?
Charlie Aucella: I’m not a huge fan of coaching as an advantage in playoff basketball. If anything, I believe there’s more to be said for a coach hurting a team’s chances. I love Doc Rivers, for instance. But sometimes I feel he over-coaches. Did he over-coach The Clippers?
[Editors Note] Doc Rivers under-coached the Clippers. Nikola Jokic was the key to Denver winning and the best player to guard him didn’t get the chance because Rivers preferred to ride and die with his normal rotation. As we all now know, the Clippers died. RIP 2020 LA Clippers. Thank you for asking though! I was feeling left out!
Haig Yeterian: I’m going to go with Erik Spoelstra on this one, tough for me as a Celtics fan but Spo has a few rings already, and even though people can just say he had a superteam to get these, nobody will care in 10, 20, 50, years all that will matter is the rings. Brad Stevens is a great coach, has a great percentage of scoring off of in bounds plays but there have been times where I’m not completely sold on his decisions. Of course, I’m just an amateur player and don’t see everything behind the scenes, but when Jayson Tatum had the ball in the last few seconds of regulation and opted to take a 3 pointer, I was freaking out as surely I would rather have seen some ball movement or some kind of play develop before that shot. Stevens has got to be the one to do that. He can’t rely on pure talent alone from such a young star. Maybe I’m being hard on him, but I’ll change my mind if he adjusts well in game 2.
Daniel Romo: Spoelstra because he has won Finals and even though Jimmy gets a lot of credit, Erik is one of the key reasons this Heat team is in the East Finals.
Who wins, in how many games and who is the MVP?
Charlie Aucella: I’m assuming you mean the whole thing? The Celtics win the 2020 NBA Bubble Championship Finals in 7 games. MVP: Jayson Tatum.
[Editors Note] I meant the Eastern Conference Finals, but I will assume your answers remain the same! 🙂
Haig Yeterian: Can’t stop me from being biased completely. Celtics in 7! Everyone will be praising Marcus Smart, he won’t have the most points scored but I see some hustle plays like diving for the ball or drawing an offensive foul late in the 4th quarter in his future.
Daniel Romo: I got Boston in 6 because I believe Boston has the more talented and experienced roster and the MVP of this series will be Tatum. (If you meant MVP overall, Giannis)
[Editors Note to self] I need to be more clear when sharing questions! I did not mean MVP Overall, but I agree with you, Giannis will win his second MVP!