With Game 1 of the Celtics-Heat series set to kick off tonight, let's run down the 22 players from both teams that have a chance of seeing meaningful playing time in this series.
Gordon Hayward: A healthy Hayward would easily be in the top-8 for this series but his Grade 3 ankle sprain will keep him sidelined for at least a portion of the series and may limit his effectiveness when he’s back on the court. With more than a month off due to the ailment, it’s hard to gauge how effective he will be upon returning to the court. When he does come back in this series, a more limited role is a strong bet based on the challenge of entering playoff basketball after a month away combined with Smart’s effectiveness with the starters.
21. Romeo Langford. BOS: The rookie wing has only played 44 minutes in the postseason and did not appear in meaningful minutes against the Raptors. He’s still battling a wrist tendon injury so he’s likely to stay on the bench most nights but a long list of speedy Miami shooters could make him relevant if Brad Wanamaker isn’t able to stick with them.
20. Derrick Jones Jr., MIA: The athletic 6-foot-6 forward is one of the few subpar 3-point shooters (28 percent in regular season) on the Heat roster. His strength is his length and defense so he may get the call if Miami wants to maximize its zone defense with guys that can cover a lot of ground. C’s could happily take that trade-off since he’s easier to defend.
19. Enes Kanter, BOS: This feels low but it’s more of a reflection of the type of basketball the Heat play. Outside of Bam Adebayo, they have shooting pretty much everywhere on the court and that makes playing Kanter a liability in this series in all likelihood. He could be used as a zone buster offensively down low but Rob Williams can serve the same purpose with better defensive mobility. Kanter likely get a chance or two at some point to keep him engaged but it’s going to be hard for Stevens to justify sustaining those minutes.
18. Semi Ojeleye, BOS: He averaged the third-most minutes against Miami (21.5) than any other opponent this season. That was largely due to injuries though. Spot duty in this series and minutes shared with Grant Williams.
17. Robert Williams, BOS: Fresh off a series shooting 90 percent from the field, he finds himself as the top backup center on the roster. His athleticism will be a nice counter to Adebayo but he will only stay on the floor if he’s able to switch out effectively on 3-point shooters. He didn’t do that well enough against the Raptors.
16. Grant Williams, BOS: His block on a potential game-tying 3-pointer by Fred VanVleet in Game 7 was perfect practice for what he’ll be facing all series long in Miami. He’s put in the work all season long to handle switching out onto shooters and that’s what will be asked for him in this series. It also makes it likely he will be the most active big off the bench, especially if he continues his 3-point shooting (8-of-12 in the postseason)
15. Kendrick Nunn, MIA: The rookie guard started all 67 games he played during the regular season but he’s been demoted to the fringe of Miami’s rotation during the postseason. He can score in a hurry (15.3 ppg) but has hit just 33 percent of his shots during the playoffs and is a defensive liability. He only gets a shot if other Heat wings go cold.
14. Brad Wanamaker, BOS: Shot 62.5 percent against the Heat in three regular season games. His minutes will be directly tied to Hayward’s availability in this series. As long as Hayward is out, C’s will need him plenty to chase around Miami shooters on the bench and help create against zone looks with the second unit.
13. Kelly Olynyk, MIA: The former Celtic had been in and out of the Heat rotation earlier this season but he’s been a big boost for Miami’s bench this postseason, including a monster effort in the Game 5 clincher over the Bucks. Celtics will be sure to target him in the pick-and-roll defensively if he gets extended minutes but his outside shooting could limit C’s giving minutes to Rob Williams.
12. Andre Iguodala, MIA: The midseason trade addition will be a useful weapon against Boston’s top-scoring wings in Tatum, Brown and Hayward (if he returns). He’s a savvy veteran but a virtual non-factor offensively these days (4 ppg in postseason). C’s will be able to help off him on the perimeter (29 percent from 3).
11. Tyler Herro, MIA: The rookie guard has been the best scorer off Miami’s bench this postseason (14.7 ppg) while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. Look for the Celtics to try to target him defensively to punish the Heat if they try to play big minutes.
10. Duncan Robinson, MIA: There was no better catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter in the NBA this season (45 percent). He’s a one-trick pony though offensively so look for the Celtics to target him just like Herro in this series defensively.
9. Jae Crowder, MIA: Nearly 90 percent of his shot attempts in the playoffs have come from 3-point range (40 percent) and he’s attempted more 3s than any other Miami player (8.3 per game). Will the Memphis shooter (29 percent from 3) or Miami shooter (44.5 percent from 3) show up in this series?
8. Daniel Theis, BOS: The C’s center was a combined +34 in games against Miami this year. He’s a good matchup