NBA’s Eastern Conference finals offers a classic matchup

The Celtics and the Heat have a rich history. Photo courtesy USA Today

For the first time since 2012, both the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will go head to head to see who will be advancing to the NBA Finals.

If the Miami Heat advance to the finals, it will be their first time since 2014. If the Boston Celtics advance, it will be their first time since 2010.

Miami won the NBA finals during the 2011-2012 season as well as the 2012-2013 season. Many fans hoped that the team would have a “3-peat,” but that was cut short by the San Antonio Spurs at the end of the 2013-2014 season with the Spurs putting out the fire in Miami with a 4-1 victory.

As for the Boston Celtics, they have not won a NBA championship since the 2007-2008 season. They fell short to the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2009-2010 finals with the Lakers winning game seven.

With Miami’s Game 5 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, they became the lowest seed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals since 1999.

In an interview with the NBA, Coach Spolstra of the Miami Heat said, “I can’t say it enough, we’re just really grateful to be a part of this.”

The Heat were considered the underdogs, yet they are persevering to come out on top and reclaim that NBA finals championship.

In an ESPN interview with Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat, Butler said, “I don’t think we’ve played a full 48 minute game yet and that’s what’s promising [is] whenever we do lock in and decide to play from start to finish the way that we are capable and the way that we’re supposed to, I think the game will be a lot easier.”

Gordon Hayward is expected to make his return sometime during the Eastern Conference finals after spraining his right ankle in the opening game of the first round against Philadelphia. According to a report from TNT’s Rebecca Harlowe, Hayward should be ready to return “sooner rather than later.”

What does Hayward’s return mean for Miami? It could mean absolutely nothing or his return could be the missing piece that the Celtics need to secure the win against Miami during this series.

The Celtics have worked to overcome and advance to this series in the absence of Hayward with players such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker.

Taking a look during the regular season, the Celtics and the Heat faced off three times, with the Celtics taking two of those three wins. The Celtics are favored to win during this series, but that may mean nothing as the Bucks were once favored to win the NBA Championship and Miami crushed that dream. Can the Miami Heat prove the doubters wrong and advance to the NBA finals or will the Celtics continue to dominate all the way to the finals?

Be sure to tune in to the start of the Eastern Conference Finals as Game 1 is scheduled for Tuesday.