Predictions: Celtics-Heat is a split decision

With the Celtics and Heat set to square off in Miami starting Monday (8:30 ET on ESPN/ESPN3/WatchESPN.com), we have quick picks for the series from our hoop experts. Over at ESPN.com, all 14 experts pick the Heat.

Jackie MacMullan: Heat in 6

The exhausted, battered Celtics have no business thinking they can beat Miami -- which is exactly why they WILL think that. That's what positive self-talk does for you. Too bad they simply don't have the healthy bodies to back it up.

Chris Forsberg: Heat in 6

You can never rule these Celtics out (as this season has shown countless times), alas the loss of Avery Bradley dealt this team a crippling and potentially fatal blow in this round. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett should individually carry Boston to a couple of wins to make things interesting, but Boston would need a near flawless series in order to emerge and we simply haven't seen the consistency (or the health) necessary to pull that off. Yet again, Boston will be left to wonder what could have been if it had full health in the postseason.

Peter May: Celtics in 7

Defense will rule the series with occasional bursts of Rondo Magic, but it will all come down to the fourth quarter of Game 7 and LeBron will come up short once again.

Greg Payne: Celtics in 6

The Heat have the two best players in the series, but Boston boasts two significant advantages at the point guard spot with Rondo and inside with Garnett, who is playing some of his finest basketball since joining the Celtics. Rondo will probably have to average a triple-double, and the C's will need to figure out how to guard Dwyane Wade, given Ray Allen's ankle woes. But with Bosh out, the Celtics become the overall better team, which will be enough to conquer two stellar players and a so-so supporting cast.

ESPN's experts:


2012 NBA Playoffs - Conference Finals - Heat vs. Celtics - ESPN via kwout