Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Heat or Celtics the East Favorites?

Many say that Miami's mega team is the automatic favorite in the East. Others give the current conference champs, a deep Boston team, the edge over a supposedly shallow Miami rotation. Some pundits have made strong cases for Orlando or even the Boozer-Rose Bulls to stop Miami's coronation. Curious to see who might be right, I looked at the Hollinger Player Efficiency Ratings (PERs) of each team's roster categorized by Guards, Wing Players, and Bigs.

Let's start with the conference finals I'm hoping for, Miami vs. Boston. Clearly, nobody in this match-up comes close to D-Wade (28.1). But Boston has a great guard trio of Rondo (19.18), Allen (15.22) and Nate Robinson (16.41). Miami's point guards are serviceable, and neither Mario Chalmers (10.74) nor Carlos Arroyo (12.38) is likely to carry too much of the ball-handling load with LBJ and Wade on the team. Slight edge Boston.

At the wing, Lebron (31.19) and Mike Miller (14.00) are miles better than Paul Pierce (18.24) and Marquis Daniels (9.64). That's a huge edge for Miami.

Miami and Boston both have five big men who can expect to see significant time. Bosh (25.11) heads a front line featuring Centers Josh Anthony (10.26) and former Cav Zydrunas Ilgauskas (11.99), Udonis Haslem (14.62) and an aging Juwon Howard (9.99). Boston is still led by Kevin Garnett (19.51), but newcomer Jermaine O'Neal (17.92) adds depth to the front-line with Kendrick Perkins (15.08), Glen Davis (11.59), and Rasheed Wallace (13.18). Miami would have the best big man in a series, but Boston's front-line depth is of a higher quality. Slight edge Boston. All in all, I have to think Boston has the depth of talent to challenge Miami. I'd put this match-up at 50-50.

Orlando and Chicago are both interesting contenders. Orlando's big men stack up pretty well against Boston's and Miami's, and Vince Carter/Mickael Pietrus are about as good as Pierce/Daniels. While they lack the guard depth of Boston, or anyone who comes close to Wade or Lebron, they do have potent 3-point shooters that could serve as an equalizer. At full strength, I think either Boston or Miami would have an edge against Orlando, but Orlando would be a tough out.

The trio of Carlos Boozer (21.42), Derrick Rose (18.69), and Joakim Noah (17.96) make Chicago a contender. The Bulls added a big man (Boozer) who is more productive that Garnett at this point, and a 3-point shooter in Korver (53.6 3pt%) to improve the team's awful performance in that category last year. Their guard depth might overwhelm a poor defensive roster like Miami's, and they have the big men to compete with Boston/Orlando. All in all, Chicago is clearly out-manned by the top 3, but not by too much.

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