Heat vs Celtics – The Most Important Rivalry in the NBA

Having Ray Allen leave the Boston Celtics was probably the best thing that could happen to the rivalry between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, with some real hate features and lines drawn between Kevin Garnett & Doc Rivers and the champions led by LeBron James.

Every good rivalry needs a double agent or traitor that leaves one side to join the other. Sometimes it’s for money; sometimes it’s for the prospect of NBA titles; sometimes it’s something else. Allen would have made more if he had stayed and re-signed with the Boston Celtics, but his problems with Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo and probably knowing that the future is in South Beach made it an easier decision for him.

Kevin Garnett is never one to forget a slight, so as the Heat lineup up for their new season and Ray Allen’s photo in Heat uniform started spreading around the web, Kevin Garnett decided to let it out that he’s no longer on speaking terms with Allen. Why? He never said the word betrayed during the press conference, but for someone as competitive as Garnett, seeing someone he regarded as his friend and teammate in the losing battle to win another NBA title with Paul Pierce as the third old wing, it’s pretty easy to understand his motives for talking about it, and for actually stopping to speak with him.

I don’t have Ray’s number anymore. I’m not trying to communicate with him. I’m just being honest with everybody in here. It’s not that I wish him less than or whatever, it’s just what it is. I choose not to communicate with him. That’s a choice I personally made. I’m very close to Ray, I know his family, I wish nothing but the best for him and his family, I just made the choice to move on. That’s all.

In such a professional  money-themed sport, it’s great for these things to happen. Maybe it’s immature to wish people to feel distaste for each other in what is, after all, entertainment, but personal feeling getting involved make a better story, and improve the potential for sparks flying on the court when these two teams meet four times next season, and possibly in the playoffs for a third consecutive season since the LeBron train arrived in Miami.

Allen? He seems to be happy with the choice he’s made, with the place he’s at right now.

That’s a shame. I’m a good person to talk to on the phone. I’ve been in weird trade situations the last few years. You always felt you had one foot in and one foot out so I can’t worry about it. I don’t know how many miles apart we are, sometimes the translation gets messed up. We’re friends regardless of what happens. He’s got to do what he’s got to do up in Boston.

Doc Rivers said something interesting to his players during this off season – We can’t beat the Heat by running and playing to our physical/athletics strengths, because we’ll lose. But we’re a smarter team than they are, and if we play intelligently, we can beat the Heat. I’m pretty sure Erik Spoelstra and a few members on the Heat will remember this one this season.

Maybe everyone is forgetting about another team or two in the East, like the Pacers, Nets or even the Knicks, while the Bulls are hoping for Rose to come back as soon and healthy as possible. But the Heat – Celtics thing is just too good to ignore. Still no fighting on the floor, but enough jabs through the media. Great rivalries make the NBA a better product. Teams and players to rally against are just as good for the ratings as it is to have a super-phenom like Michael Jordan on the court.

This may have turned into a bit of a one sided rivalry with the Heat obviously having the advantage, winning the last two playoff series between the two teams, but it’s still the best the NBA has at the moment, with Ray Allen’s move and Kevin Garnett simply being himself giving it a slight tweak and upgrade heading into the 2012-2013 NBA season.

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