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Game of the Week: Boston at Miami

US Presswire

Why You Should Watch

Because you can! I started looking forward to this game as soon as the Olympics ended and I was confronted with the harsh reality of being a New York Jets fan. Nothing makes me miss basketball like watching Mark Sanchez throw a football.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the LeBron James victory party. I’m a proud hater but even I have to admit that we’re witnessing greatness every time he’s on the court. He’s off my list, and soon I won’t even have David Stern to hate. I need a new outlet. Send suggestions via Twitter.

These teams are already bitter rivals, but Ray Allen‘s acrimonious departure from Boston should only make the tension thicker. There has been a lot of chatter between Allen and his former comrades, but these things tend to get settled after a good ball game. Is it too much to hope for the season’s first fight?

What to Watch For

The Corners: Boston was very succesful in both the season series and the playoffs employing the corner three, shooting 39%, according to the stats page. But they’ve lost their best three-point shooter in Allen. Courtney Lee and Jason Terry need to have the same kind of success to stretch Miami’s defense, because the Heat defend the paint very well.

Small Ball: Neither of these teams fields a real center, an increasingly common trend in the NBA. Most of the matchups between these two teams are pretty traditional—Bosh-Garnett, James-Pierce, Wade-Lee, Chalmers-Rondo—except for one: Brandon Bass and Shane Battier. The two are the same height, but play completely different games due to their 25-pound weight difference. In their matchup in the playoffs, Battier showed why he’s considered one of the toughest defenders in the league, as Bass was limited to shooting 48% at the rim while Battier was in the game, compared to 83% when Battier sat. The stars will be out in force, but this battle of grunts could play a key role in deciding the game.

Season Outlook

We talked about this in our roundtable previews, but I think Boston will take a step back this year without Ray Allen. Wednesday will provide an early look at whether Courtney Lee and Jason Terry can fill that hole and prove me wrong. The arrival of Andrew Bynum—health concerns aside—puts their dominance of the Atlantic Division into question. This is still a tough team, but I would be surprised if they gave Miami as much trouble this season as they did last year.

As for the Heat, they showed in the playoffs that they can be downright dominant. Any team with LeBron James on the roster is going to win a lot, but with the additions they made this summer, combined with Eric Spoelstra’s embrace of the small, flexible lineup that was so succesful in the postseason, I think this team is going to be a terror to defend.

You’ve Convinced Me, When Is This Game?

Tuesday, 8 p.m. on TNT. I’ve missed Charles and Kenny. And even EJ. Even EJ!

If You Have League Pass

Watch Denver at Philadelphia, Wednesday at 7 p.m., and invite me over.

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