Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will battle in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, for a chance to advance to the NBA Finals.
2020 is the 4th time these teams have met in the playoffs. In all 4 cases, the winning team advanced to the Finals.
2010 – #4 Celtics beat #5 Heat 4-1 in the first round
This was the third year of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen super team era. Boston won it all in 2008, lost in the East Finals in 2009, and advanced to the Finals in 2010 (lost to Lakers).
Heat loss came months before they added Lebron James and Chris Bosh. Dwayne Wade played 42 minutes per game and averaged 33.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 6.8 apg. The other four starts were Carlos Arroyo, Michael Beasley, Quentin Richardson, and Jermaine O’Neal. The fact that the Heat won one game seems like a big accomplishment.
2011 – #2 Heat beat #3 Celtics 4-1 in second round
This was year one of “the big three”. Wade led the Heat with 30 ppg and was followed by Lebron James, who had 28 ppg.
Jermaine O’Neal, who started 5 games for the Heat in the 2010 series, started all 5 for the Celtics, averaging 6.0 ppg and 4.4 rpg in 21 minutes per game. In 2010, O’Neal played 23 mpg and averaged 4.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg.
Shaq, who won an NBA title with the Heat in 2006, played 12 total minutes (across 2 games) for the Celtics.
2012 – #2 Heat beat #4 Celtics in 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals
Heat would go on to win NBA Finals, Lebron’s first championship. He was on a mission too. He played 45.8 mpg in the 7 games, averaging 33.6 ppg, while shooting 53% from the floor and grabbed 11.0 rpg.
Celtics won a playoff series for the 5th straight year. After losing this series, they wouldn’t win again until 2017. 2012 was the last time Garnett/Pierce/Allen won a playoff series together.
It would also be the end of Ray Allen’s tenure with the Celtics. Allen played over 40 mpg and averaged 11.9 ppg
Heat stars Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk both previously played for the Celtics.
Crowder was traded to the Celtics in the middle of the 2014-15 season as part of the trade that sent Rajon Rondo from Boston to Dallas. After 2.5 years with the Mavs (who drafted him 34th overall in 2012), he spent parts of three seasons in Boston. Crowder averaged 12.8 ppg and 5.2 rpg before being traded to Utah. After a couple more trades, he wound up in Miami at this year’s trade deadline and averaged 11.9 ppg in the regular season and 12.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg in 9 playoff games (started all 9).
Like Crowder, Kelly Olynyk was drafted by the Mavs (#13 in 2013). He was drafted on draft night for Lucas Nogueira and second round picks. Olynyk spent the first 4 seasons of his career in Boston, averaging 9.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg mostly as a reliable bench player, averaging 20 minutes per game. He signed with the Heat as a free agent in 2017 and has averaged 9.9 ppg and 5.0 rpg in the last 3 seasons.
The other connection, as mentioned above is Ray Allen. Allen was traded from Seattle to the Celtics in 2007, where he played until 2012. His last game in Boston was the Game 7 ECF loss to Miami, whom he signed with that summer. After helping the Celtics win the NBA title in 2008, Allen helped the Heat win it in 2013. His CLUTCH three pointer at the end of Game 6 saved the Heat, and helped force a Game 7 (which they would go on to win). Allen had a falling out with other members of the Celtics, who felt betrayed that he would leave them, a declining contender, to join the Heat, a rising contender.
Success from draft and free agency
Both teams laid the foundation for this year’s success in the 2017 Draft. Celtics drafted Jayson Tatum #3 and Heat drafted Bam Adebayo #14 – both made their first All Star games in 2020.
2020 free agency also benefited each team. Celtics signed Kemba Walker, who proved to be a much better fit than Kyrie Irving. And the Heat signed Jimmy Butler (via trade).