There have been debates about whether or not there's a true rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, but there's no denying it now. The two Eastern Conference foes are set to play each other in the NBA Playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

When they last met in the postseason, the Heat were celebrating an Eastern Conference championship on Boston's parquet, as they had just beaten the Celtics in Game 7 of an intense Conference Finals. This season, Boston is out for revenge, as it posted its best regular season record in over 15 years and holds the No. 1 overall seed.

Although these two teams matching up together is nothing new, they'll both look different for a variety of reasons. Heat star Jimmy Butler injured his MCL during the Play-In Tournament last Wednesday and is expected to miss the entire first round of the playoffs (at the very least). As for the C's, they shook up their core this past summer and added former All-Stars Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to the starting lineup.

Despite all these changes, the goal for the two teams remains the same. Miami will try and muck the series up with tough defense and high intensity and Boston will hope to use its star power to assert its dominance.

So, before Game 1 of the first-round series tips off on Sunday afternoon, let's delve into three bold predictions for yet another postseason matchup between the Celtics and Heat.

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Kristaps Porzingis will lead the Celtics in scoring

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) handles the ball against Charlotte Hornets guard Vasilije Micic (22) during the first quarter at Spectrum Center.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Porzingis can score, however, he's not usually the scorer for Boston.

That job typically falls to 2024 All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as they led the Celtics in points per game this season. Right behind them, though, was Porzingis, who put up 20.1 points per outing thanks to his post-up game and ability to rise over smaller defenders.

Unfortunately for the Heat, they're one of the smallest teams in the league. Star center Bam Adebayo is Miami's defensive anchor, but if he gets into early foul trouble, there aren't many others who can contain Porzingis. When the Celtics and Heat last squared off in February, the Latvian big man scored 25 points in 32 minutes while shooting 57% from the floor en route to a 110-106 Boston win.

In the Heat's first Play-In contest, reigning MVP Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers gave Miami trouble in the fourth quarter. Even though Embiid didn't have an amazing performance on the whole, he was still able to get to his spots on offense and take over the game despite lingering injury issues. If Porzingis can draw fouls and find his 3-point shot, there's a fair chance that he leads the Green Team in scoring for the series.

The Celtics let up a career-high to Haywood Highsmith

With Butler down and the health of guard Terry Rozier up in the air, the Heat will need someone to step up.

Last postseason, forward Caleb Martin was that guy, and he was arguably the best player for Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston should now understand that Martin is a true shooting threat, so it may apply extra defensive attention to him.

That could give a player like Heat forward Haywood Highsmith extra opportunities. The 27-year-old only averaged 6.1 points during the regular season and his career-high output is only 20 points.

Since he'll have more playing time, Highsmith should have a greater shot at getting hot from deep. He went a respectable 39.6% from 3-point land this season and was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc against the Celtics back in late January.

It feels like the Heat always have an undrafted player light it up in the postseason, and don't be surprised if Highsmith does just that in the first round.

Boston wins the series, but don't sweep

Due to Butler's untimely absence and Boston's potent starting rotation, the Celtics are overwhelming favorites in this series. In fact, they're a whopping -8000 favorite to win in the first round and the Vegas favorite to win it all.

However, it's worth remembering that the Celtics were heavy favorites against Miami last year too, yet were unable to prevail in seven games.

The Heat have great coaching thanks to Erik Spoelstra and can never truly be counted out because of their gritty defense, which the Chicago Bulls found out after getting knocked out of the Play-In Tournament by Miami on Friday night. Miami's resilience and newfound momentum from crushing the Bulls could make them a threat to steal a game or two from the C's.

In Boston's defense, this isn't the same Celtics team from before. The front office changed up the roster and it culminated in a stellar 64-18 record—including a 3-0 season series sweep of the Heat. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla and his guys are fully aware of the Heat's ability and know not to underestimate them, regardless of who's on the floor.

This series could potentially be a battle, but given Miami's injuries and Boston's talent, the Celtics should prevail in five to six games. Boston learned the danger of letting underdog teams hang around last playoffs, so hopefully it'll carry its regular season consistency into the postseason and squash the Heat before they gain confidence.