Boston Celtics Marty McFly Miami Heat Time Travel Young Shaqtus
The way I see it, there are six ways to approach the 2010-2011 NBA season and six ways only. You either:
A) root for the Heat because you’re a Heat fan (applies to my friend PK, 20 of his buds, and Lenny Kravitz… that’s about it)
B) root for the Heat because you want to see two of the all-time greats historically decimate the rest of the league in their primes
C) root against the Heat because they’re the new Yankees, and like most people outside of New York and Boca Raton, you effin’ loathe the Yankees
D) root against the Heat because your team’s a legit contender, or rather, could be should something go horribly wrong (i.e. Wade breaks a foot; Madonna lands LeBron)
E) sit back and watch the fireworks (via Sports Atheism)
F) sit back and watch football (via “Bryan Holt Syndrome”)
I’m rather certain Celtics fans fall into group D, or at the very least, have placed themselves in this camp whether their roster constitutes a legit contender or not. I say it does, but that’s a discussion for late winter.
Summer, though, is time for rampant speculation, panic, crowning on-paper champions. And so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the Miami Heat will indeed win the next four titles, transform South Beach into basketball mecca, and make me feel slimier than an oil-ravaged Gulf shore for falling head over heels (again) for the Cleveland Assassin.
Seems like the only hope for averting the above basketball apocalypse are the (*swallow hard to suck down hatred*)… Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, I know: another Showtime title is a mini-catastrophe in itself.
I’m a self-respecting human being. I would rather live in a fantasy world. I would rather take the current Boston Celtics roster, Delorean it back in time, do the impossible: assemble a team that would beat the hell out of the 2010-2011 Miami Heat.
Since this post is bound by nothing – space-time, reality, word count – I’m going to field the Boston Heatbeaters (like Beaneaters?) using only 2010 Celtics in their respective primes… You’ll see how it works. Let’s do this.
Center: ’99-00 Shaquille O’Neal (Celtics) vs. Joel Anthony/Zydrunas Ilgauskas/Jamaal Magloire/Udonis Haslem (Heat)
As you know, The Big Minimum was once the most dominating physical presence in the history of the league. This really isn’t a legitimate matchup – like pitting a 320-pound rottweiler against a chalupa. So I’m not gonna spend a lot of time telling you that the rottweiler would win. Shaq was a man possessed in his first season under Phil Jackson – 29.7 pts, 13.7 rebs, 40 MPG (all career highs), 3 blocks, 57% FG. Eye-popping, yes? The more important point here is this: the Heat are vulnerable up front should a certain big man in Orlando ever take the next step. I mean, good lord, I’ve seen better defenders in the French army.
Forward: ’03-04 Kevin Garnett vs. Chris Bosh
Like most of us, Chris Bosh aspires to be Kevin Garnett – taller, better defender and blessed with the most creative arsenal of swear words this side of John Starks. Looks like a pretty even matchup on paper: Bosh’s 24/11 on 52% FG in 36 mins/per stacks up against KG’s MVP campaign (24/14/5, 50% FG, 79% FT, 2.2 blk, 1.5 stl in 39 mins/per). Then you remember that Garnett bulldozed his way through a stacked West with none other than 34-year-old Sam Cassell as wingman. The Wolves won a franchise record 58 games that year, falling 2 games short of the Finals in the Ticket’s monkey-off-back playoff run… Bosh’s team won 40 games. Bosh’s team missed the playoffs. Bosh’s team had a guy so disillusioned by Toronto b-ball that he feined illness for a night on the town. Advantage: Big Ticket, though I’ll say that playing with championship-caliber teammates in Miami should light a fire under Tito’s Bosh’s ass on the defensive end. That and $110 million.
Forward: ’07-’08 Paul Pierce vs. Mike Miller
The Truth posted better statistical seasons when he was carrying the load in Beantown (he peaked once from ’00-’03 and then again in ’05-’06), but he vaulted himself into the ranks of the all-time greats with his playoff performance during the Big Three’s first title run. He played Bird to LeBron’s Dominique in a 41-point home close-out game against Cleveland in the semis, notched 27 on 8 of 12 shooting in the Eastern Finals closeout of Detroit, and then proceeded to vanquish the best player in the league in the NBA Finals… Of course, Miller’s no slouch in his own right and should post staggeringly efficient numbers in his new Heat role (aka “Get open/jack threes”). 50% FG/40% 3FG /80% FT looks a better bet than Jon Hamm at the Emmys.
Guard: ’00-’01 Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade
Ranks just above Garnett/Bosh for most competitive matchup, and reveals the evident dichotomy not just in my BS fantasy comp, but in the dynamics of the Heat roster. They’ll hammer people in the backcourt – we know this. But will Wade and LeBron play so well that it won’t even matter that Miami’s Swiss cheese on D 3-5? Seriously, Haslem, Miller and Bosh will run you out of the building with the ball in their hands, but they’re either pitifully undersized or just flat inept on the other side. Even this current Celtics incarnation could exploit that void. Garnett, Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal (aka “The Expendables”) plus Big Baby and a healthy late-season Kendrick Perkins? The midnight infomercials say it best: size matters… Ray Ray scraped his ceiling early on, taking the Bucks to the Eastern Finals in a career shooting year (48% FG, 43% 3FG). Still, at this point, Wade’s a scary-good cross between Iverson and Bernard King. Great ball skills. Great decision making. Scores at will. Not nearly as good as the new guy, though.
Guard: Rajon Rondo vs. LeBron James
Two guys unlike any other in the league – both with unique sets of skills, freakish athleticism, hands the size of catcher’s mitts. Remember when Mike Brown flirted with putting LeBron on Rondo in last year’s playoffs? That’s in play should Heat coach Dwyane Wade use LJ like the Magic-meets-fire-hydrant superguard he’s meant to be. Rondo has a 17/10/7 in him, but how high do we go with LeBron? 25/12/10? We know he’ll pick up a lot of the rebounding load to compensate for Miami’s lack of size up front, and in terms of all-time basketball specimens running the break, LeBron is second to none in terms of sheer force and finishing ability. The prospect of him filling the center lane on a three on two with Bosh and Wade makes me giggle. In fact, I’d like to see that almost as much as I’d like to see Rondo dishing to a young KG and a young Diesel. A brick wall wouldn’t take that charge.
Bench: ’02-’03 Jermaine O’Neal, ’09-’10 Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson vs. Mario Chalmers/Eddie House/James Jones
Really wish Tony Allen was still in green. Love to have an athletic stopper at your disposal, especially when you’re up against the Three My Egos. Perkins fills that role in the front court, Robinson plays spark-plug scorer (not that you’d need one with this starting five), and 23-year-old O’Neal comes on like a rich man’s ’86 Walton. The Heat, on the other hand, close out their eight-man rotation with Chalmers and two journeyman shooters. Makes you wonder if Miami’s lack of depth gives Pat Riley this recurring nightmare:
Crunch time. Game 6 Eastern Semis against Boston. Up 1 with 20 seconds left. Jamaal Magloire’s having an asthma attack because he hasn’t played more than 20 minutes/per in 4 years. Spoelstra scours his bench as five titles worth of KG and Shaq step back onto the parquet… Ilgauskas? Fouled out two minutes ago. Juwan Howard? Calcified in the third quarter.
Coach Spo turns further to the left, looking desperately past Varnados and Pittmans for a body above 6’9″ – a body that will make one final, series-clinching stop. Haslem? 6’8″, on a good day. Damn.
The 20-second timeout ends. Miami has four men on the court.
But then, from the corner of Spo’s eye – between two empty chairs like Moses parting the Red Sea – sits a deliverer: the man who will protect your rim against 14-feet-3-inches of future Hall of Famer.
Pointless, possibly revealing exercise over. Happy Monday.