Conflict between Miami President Pat Riley and former Celtic GM Danny Ainge began on the court through the 80's NBA Finals matchups between Boston and the Lakers.
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It certainly didn't sit well with Ainge when his '93 Suns team fell to Riley's Knicks again.
Since then, over the last decade or so, the Heat have won the last three of their four meetings with the Celtics.
Many speculated that the rivalry between the two gritty and historic franchises began when LeBron James decided to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach, later noted to take down the 17-time champs before James became accustomed to it.
The basketball nerds and critics comparing who started the, "super team," era with Boston's drafting and Ainge's magnificent trades as well as Riley's iconic vision through centuries, the game was then changed forever.
"Danny Ainge needs to shut the f--- up and manage his own team," Riley said regarding Ainge's comments on LeBron's disapproval of the games officiating in March 2013. "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him."
The James-Paul Pierce rivalry was arguably the East's best those few seasons with James even labeling Paul as his most-fierced opponent at the time. Especially with the previous battles between the two in Cleveland.
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Less than than two full years ago, we had our first look at the battle between Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum.
It brought what everyone expected between a usual Boston-Miami matchup. pound for pound toughness, fearless perseverance 1-15 between both rosters to go with excellent all-around defense. The type of hard-nosed basketball that fans from previous generations highly value.
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The Celtics, here even after two roster turnarounds since followed by having completed one of the most remarkable single-season turnarounds the NBA may ever witness starting 18-21, have looked like it could be time for banner 18 by the day.
Boston has plenty of more size than they had in the bubble as Theis was their only main center. The Celts now have two All-Defensive guys up front in Al Horford and Robert Williams along with the likes of the teams first Defensive Player of The Year since their '08 title season in Marcus Smart.
The Celtics line up now 1-8 with those three, Tatum and Jaylen Brown who are beyond hungry to get past the hump this team has been at in four of the last six seasons. Derrick White's two-way playmaking as well as Grant Williams covering all positions with he and Payton Pritchard's elite outside shooting. Theis has plenty of protection to say the least as he clearly won't be as much of an option.
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The biggest difference to me is the fact that the Heat don't have a six-feet tall Kemba Walker to get picked on the defensive side of the ball.
Smart's two-way play will be key like it has been throughout this postseason, given he can play through his foot sprain in either of the first two games in Miami.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst had reported this morning that Rob Williams will be good to go tonight with no restrictions and the likelihood of starting.
Sure, Ainge is in Utah now, but his play, dedication and mentality both on the court and in the front office of the organization of the Boston Celtics is a forever-love story. Present in Sunday's game 7 in Boston along with many other games this season, It is difficult to find someone with the intimacy or idolization Ainge has always had for the green.