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Celtics blogger roundtable: Opponents

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  December 16, 2011 09:18 AM

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Several of the best Celtics and NBA bloggers in the business were kind enough to join me for a roundtable to discuss the upcoming NBA season. They are, in no particular order, Jimmy Toscano of Celtics Blog, Jay King of Celtics Town, Ethan Norof of Bleacher Report, Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog, Steve Alexander of Rotoworld, Jon Duke of Celtics Stuff Live, Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com, Brandon Paul of CLNS Radio, and John Karalis of Red'sArmy.com. This is the sixth and final installment in a series previewing the season.

Well we're done looking inward and now make a not-so-zen-like transition outward to look at the rest of the Eastern Conference. I'd like to thank all the bloggers above for their time and work during this series. Hope some of you enjoyed it.

-- Can anyone in the East beat the Heat?

Jimmy Toscano, Celtics Blog

Unfortunately, no. The Heat are here to stay, and now that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have a year together under their belts, look out. A shortened season won't hurt them like it probably will for the Celtics, and the Heat actually have cap flexibility this season that will allow them to bring on even more talent. Who doesn't want to play in South Beach? It will probably come down to the Heat and the Bulls, but in the end the Heat will prevail. It's just a matter of time before James gets his ring. The only team that can stop the Heat are the Heat themselves.

-- Rank the top five teams in the Eastern Conference:

Steve Alexander, Rotoworld

1. Heat
2. Bulls
3. Celtics
4. Magic
5. Knicks

I desperately wanted to pick a sleeper, but just couldn't do it. The Sixers, Hawks, Pacers and a few others are on the door step, but aren't the same caliber as the five teams listed above. Additionally, I think the Heat and Bulls are on a different level than the other three, who are just trying to stay ahead of the teams behind them.

Health will be a huge issue for the Bulls and Celtics this season, as Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and most of the Celtics' old guys are all going to have to deal with limited rest and a 66-game season crammed into a short time frame. Obviously, this is the Celtics last shot at a title for a while (in my opinion), but much like my Colts, at least they got their title in our prime.

The Heat and Bulls very well may be the two best teams in the league, but I am getting the sense the Heat are going to get some solid role-player free agents and take it all this year. We'll see.

-- What other team scares you the most?

Jon Duke, Celtics Stuff Live

Every team the Celtics face this year have gaping holes in their resumes... the Mavs did not return Chandler and Barea. Not unlike the Celtics, Kobe's Lakers are a year older. The Bulls will need much more from those not named Rose, and the Heat are a crew with undeniable talent but struggle when the games matter most. Still, I see Miami as likely the worst possible match with the Celtics, utilizing their speed, strength, and athletic ability to overwhelm members of the Big 4. Perhaps it was the lasting image of the Miami Heat running roughshod over the guys in green, or maybe it was Lebron legitimately making big shots from long distance for the first time in memory. Either way, the Heat showed themselves to possess what it takes to not only beat the Celtics, but humiliate them. The Heat are far from unbeatable, but they are a force to be reckoned with.

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