Basketball, Basketball, Columnists, Sports

The 2-3 Zone, the Finals matchup and the end of the Celtics’ season

The “2”

I just woke up, and the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat Game 6 that I watched on Sunday seems like nothing more than a feverish nightmare. But through my immeasurable devastation, I can manage to remember that the Celtics’ season really was ended by the Heat. 

Because of that reason, I will be devoting the entire second section of this column to the Celtics, but for now it’s time to focus on what everyone else is excited for: the NBA Finals.

I am particularly excited about two things in the upcoming series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. I am thrilled for the matchup between LeBron James and Jimmy Butler and for the matchup between Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo.

Sure, the James-playing-against-his-former-team aspect is interesting. And the Heat’s supporting cast is fun to watch and discuss. But, it’s the Finals, and I care most about the best of the best.

Let’s start with the big man matchup.

Adebayo is incredibly fun, and he’ll be a household name by the end of the Finals. He closed the Celtics out in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a big fourth-quarter run and a 32-point, 14-rebound, 5-assist performance.

Adebayo’s elite playmaking skills should pose major problems for Javale McGee and Dwight Howard, which might mean more Davis at center for the Lakers.

Despite Adebayo showing his defensive prowess against MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Davis presents a different beast in terms of offensive skill set.

With his inside-outside scoring, face-up game and having James feed him, Davis is capable of unstoppable scoring bouts. If Davis can continue to score at the level he has throughout the playoffs so far, he could win Finals MVP.

The most exciting matchup, though, is the one between the best player for each team: James for the Lakers and Butler for the Heat.

Butler obviously is not on James’ level, but his attitude and antics will help make this series exciting. 

Off the court, Butler is already bringing fun to the bubble with the arguably overpriced Big Face Coffee. 

On the court, he has clearly been doing enough to lead a fifth-seeded Heat team to the Finals. But, he will have his hands full with the greatest player of all time.

James is going to the Finals with his third different team. He’s going to his 10th Finals and he’s going to have a chance to win his fourth Finals, as well as fourth Finals MVP.

James understands the intensity and gravity of this moment more than anyone else. No one will be as good as James in the Finals. I am ready to watch a legend dominate at basketball’s highest level of competition.

The “3”

The Celtics’ season is over.

My first thoughts are that it ended rather disappointingly. They were favored to beat the Heat. Across the top of their roster, they had superior talent. 

But the Celtics took far too long to figure out the Heat zone. And in four of six games, the Celtics just didn’t show the level of effort they needed to win.

Fortunately, there are two positive takeaways from this season as Boston moves forward beyond this year.

The first is the team’s locker room chemistry. Last year, the Celtics had clear chemistry issues that plagued the team and resulted in a second-round loss in the playoffs.

With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford gone and Kemba Walker joining the team, the Celtics seemed like they were having fun as a squad almost all year long. With a better culture at their foundation, the team is better built for success in the years to come.

The other big positive Boston can take away from the 2020 season is the growth of its young stars.

Jayson Tatum became an All-NBA player this year. He became a more assertive scorer, a dangerous playmaker and an even better defender. He is on the verge of superstardom and the Celtics are lucky enough to have him in Boston.

Tatum’s counterpart Jaylen Brown made an equally impressive leap this year. His growth may not have been rewarded with accolades, but after becoming an elite transition scorer and three-point shooter who can create for himself off the dribble, Brown erased all questions about what kind of player he will be in this league.

 

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