With the much anticipated "Free Agent Summit" having occurred this past weekend and the rumor mill swirling about LeBron James and Chris Bosh moving to the Miami heat, it is perhaps time to think about how this scenario would affect the Celtics.
While one may consider the juggernaut being created in South Beach to be a major threat to the C’s in the Eastern Conference, there are a multitude of silver linings on that cloud. First of all, Toronto will go from being a marginal playoff team (though second to the C’s in the Atlantic) to being absolute cupcakes without Bosh. Sure, the C’s went 4-0 against Toronto last season, but making that outcome even more likely going forward can’t hurt.
While Boston was able to upend the Cavs in this year’s playoffs, Cleveland did have the NBA’s best record and looked poised to win not only the Eastern Conference, but also the NBA title. Without LeBron, Cleveland becomes a borderline playoff team, one that cannot be considered a serious threat to win the conference, even if they bring in a Joe Johnson or Dirk Nowitzki as a replacement. All of this free-agent movement may not be such a bad thing for the C’s after all.
But what about Miami? Well, while the three best players on the floor in a Heat-C’s matchup would be wearing black and red, all is not lost. If the Heat are able to lure Bosh and LeBron, they would likely have to part with nearly every single player on their roster who makes more than the league minimum. That list would include mercurial talent Michael Beasley. As a result, their starting lineup would look like this:
The Ghost of Jermaine O’Neal/recent draft pick and Eddy Curry impersonator Dexter Pittman.
As for their bench, well, you probably won’t have heard of many of the players who end up on it.
Given that reality, Boston has a massive tactical advantage at point guard. Rajon "Grand Theft" Rondo would likely be able to guard Wade, as Chalmers does not pose much of an offensive threat. On the other end, Chalmers, a small guard, would not be able to guard Rondo, meaning that duty would likely go to D-Wade. Would that tire out a player who expends more energy on the offensive end than anybody else in the league? That’s entirely possible.
Another question that you have to ask about the Miami All-Stars: Who handles the ball? Chalmers, clearly the fourth best player on the team? D-Wade? LeBron as a point-forward fully embracing the Magic Johnson role? A team with so much offensive talent and players who demand the ball likely will not be able to avoid chemistry issues (in contrast to when the C’s assembled the "Big Three," all of whom are great off-ball workers).
As for guarding LeBron, Paul Pierce is likely the best bet for Boston, even if this means him expending all of his energy at the defensive end. Bosh, a player who is offensively dominant in many circumstances, is actually a great matchup for Kevin Garnett. KG, one could say, is basically a better — if older — version of Bosh.
So how does Miami stop Kendrick Perkins? In short, it won’t be able to. And what does Miami do in the second quarter? Play a bench full of scrubs and get lit up by a relatively deep Celtics team?
The matchup even tilts the C’s way at the head of the bench and in the front office, as coach Erik Spoelstra has garnered few votes of confidence over the course of his tenure, particularly as Pat Riley continually lurks upstairs. Sure, the Doc Rivers situation is up in the air, but the C’s won’t have an off-court soap opera unfolding the second the team underperforms for two consecutive games.
All in all, C’s fans cannot help but worry what a Bosh-LeBron-Wade juggernaut would do for their title hopes, but when you break down the X's and O's of it all, it may be a blessing in disguise.
We can only hope.