The Boston Celtics famously had success against the new-fangled Miami Heat in the season series between the two teams, who will re-engage for a second-round NBA Playoffs series on Sunday. The Celtics kicked off the regular season with a damning win, a 88-80 victory in which Chris Bosh was bullied to just eight points on 3-11 shooting and Dwyane Wade was held to 4-16 shooting. Essentially, the Celtics looked at Miami's incredible arsenal, corked it and laughed in triumph.
The teams met back up in Miami two weeks later; the result was similar, though each offense picked up. Boston won 112-107, with LeBron James again breaking the 30-point barrier but with Wade again struggling (2-12 shooting). After the game, Paul Pierce famously tweeted a crack mocking LeBron's "taking my talents to South Beach" line. The teams met against Feb. 13 in Boston with first place in the East on the line. The Celtics won 85-82. Dominance was so established.
The teams did meet again in April, with the No. 2 seed and home court advantage in this very series on the line. Miami blew the doors off, winning by 23. Boston immediately conceded the No. 2 position, resting some of his starters for the final week of the season. That loss now comes home to roost, with the Heat playing the tone-setting first two games of the series at home.
There's little evidence teams who win season series do better in the playoffs once you account for quality. As Mike Prada wrote Friday, Wade's struggles against Boston are the real issue to worry about; Bosh seemed to crack the Celtics' defense in the last two games of the season series (a team-high 24 in February, 13 on 5-8 shooting in April), and LeBron has racked up big totals all season. On the other end, Rajon Rondo stands the biggest chance of causing real problems for the Heat defense, but in the regular season series, he averaged just 7.5 points on 37 percent shooting with 12 assists per game.
Once this series begins, it'll take on a life of its own, and it seems we'll be able to forget all about the four regular season games between the teams.