The Boston Celtics have the 2-1 advantage over the Miami Heat in their regular season meetings, but the slate has been wiped clean for the Eastern Conference finals.
The two teams are set to face off in what has the potential to be another thrilling series in the Orlando bubble. The C's open as slight favorites, but there's no doubt the Heat have the firepower to make life difficult for Boston over the next week or two.
So which team will clinch a spot in the 2020 NBA Finals? NBC Sports' NBA insider Tom Haberstroh joined A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg and Abby Chin in predicting the series on a brand new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast.
C's fans won't be thrilled with Haberstroh's pick, as he's reluctantly taking Miami to win it in seven games. He explained his reasoning.
"I'm going back and forth. I want to say Celtics in 7, and then I just think about Jimmy Butler in late-game situations. Bam [Adebayo] hasn't had his breakout game. I'm going to say Heat in 7," Haberstroh said.
"This little X-factor we really haven't talked about at all is Gordon Hayward. If he comes back, can you throw him on recovering from an ankle injury in the middle of the series and expect him to be Gordon Hayward? ... That's probably the biggest variable of them all is what happens with Gordon Hayward.
"If he's healthy and looks like Gordon Hayward, the swiss-army knife for the Boston Celtics, then this is going to be a Celtics in 6 or 7. But I'm going to go with Heat in 7 and I'm already feeling really nervous about that."
Haberstroh makes a solid point as Hayward very well could be the difference-maker. Forsberg summed up Hayward's importance perfectly in a recent column.
Also discussed on the new episode: Haberstroh on how different the Celtics and Heat look since they last met. Will Marcus Smart be able to slow down Jimmy Butler? Besides Butler, who should C's be worried about? And who has the coaching advantage in this series?