at Boston Celtics (8-5, 0-0) at Miami Heat (8-3, 0-0)
Monday, May 28
8:30 PM ET
Playoff Game #14 Road Game #7
TV: ESPN, TSN
Radio: WEEI, 790 AM, ESPN Radio
American Airlines Arena Probable Starting MatchupsPoint Guard
Rajon Rondo 19.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 12.0 APG 1.0 SPG
Mario Chalmers 11.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 SPG Shooting Guard
Ray Allen 9.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, .269 3P%
Dwyane Wade 23.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.6 APG, .294 3P%Small Forward
Paul Pierce 19.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.5 APG
LeBron James 29.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 5.9 APG Power Forward
Brandon Bass 11.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.6 BPG
Shane Battier 4.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 BPG Center
Kevin Garnett 19.2 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.5 BPG
Ronny Turiaf 2.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.1 APG, 0.9 BPG Boston's Reserves
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) outMiami's Reserves
Terrel Harris Injuries
Chris Bosh (ab strain) out
Dexter Pittman (suspension) out Game Notes
The Celtics finally have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. There were times against the Sixers when it seemed like they might not make it, in spite of being heavily favored in that series. Now, absolutely no one is picking the Celtics to win this series. One big reason is the loss of Avery Bradley who proved to be the Wade stopper this season. Without him and with Ray struggling, it seems to be an uphill battle in spite of the fact that the Heat are not expected to have Bosh in this series.
There will be no breaks in this series and games are scheduled for every other night. There will be questions about the Celtics age and whether they will have enough left after a tough 7 game series in the semifinals to pull this one out. One thing I know is that you never underestimate the heart of a champion. This Celtics team has pride and they will reach down deep and fight to the end, win or lose.
The Celtics will need to get production from their bench, which hasn't been all that productive so far. The Heat's bench is weak and if the Celtics can get some points, rebounds and defense from their bench, that could be a huge advantage.
One thing the Celtics must watch out for is the Heat's thuggish behavior. They broke Rondo's arm last season to get past the Celtics and they showed their true selves in the Indiana series with a couple of very hard flagrant fouls that could have easily injured a player.
The Celtics beat the Hawks without home court and then had home court in the Philly series, which was great to have with the series going to a game 7. Once again, the Celtics will start the series on the road. They are going to need to win in Miami in order to win the series. Unlike in their championship season, they were able to win on the opponents' court in both of their first 2 series. Hopefully they can do it again in this series.
The Celtics need Rondo to play his best in every game because as we have seen so many times, when Rondo has an off game, so does the entire team. The regular season, where the Celtics won the series 3-1, doesn't mean anything now. The Celtics can win this series, but it won't be easy. Then again, when has this team ever liked anything that was easy? Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers
It's pretty obvious to anyone who has followed the Celtics at all that as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. As the stage gets bigger, so does Rondo's play, it seems. The Heat really don't have an answer for him and so this matchup favors the Celtics. Chalmers is capable of hitting some big shots so the Celtics need to guard him, especially beyond the arc. We may see Rondo covering Wade at times if Ray's ankles are still limiting him and we may also see LeBron on Rondo to try to slow him down since Chalmers isn't a great defender.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
This is a tough matchup for Paul Pierce, especially if his knee is still not 100%. LeBron has been playing very well and will be very tough to contain but the Celtics must try to slow him down. Pierce has been struggling with his shot but has been going to the basket and drawing fouls. In this series, something tells me he won't be getting the calls and so will have to finish at the rim or get his jumpers to fall.
Kevin Garnett vs Ronny Turiaf
KG has been playing inspired basketball. He has the advantage in this matchup, whether it is Turiaf or Anthony that they matchup against him at center. The Celtics will need KG to continue to play at this level if they hope to get past Miami. Turiaf won't be as easy to intimidate as Bosh was. Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Wade struggled to begin the series with Indiana and then reportedly had his knee drained (or an extra dose of steroids) and he came on strong to help the Heat finish that series. This is where Avery Bradley will be missed the most. He was very effective in guarding Wade and Ray, especially playing with the ankle injury, will struggle to keep up with him. It would be great if Ray would find his shot again in this series and make Wade have to chase him through screens and not allow him to back off. We may see some Rondo, or possibly Pietrus, on Wade if Ray continues to struggle.
Brandon Bass vs Shane Battier
According to their game notes, the Heat are sticking with Battier at the 4 instead of Haslem. Against Battier, Bass needs to stay with him as he is a threat from beyond the arc. Hopefully Bass will continue his hot shooting from the end of the last series. Bass will need to play well on both ends of the court. We know that the Heat's 2 stars will get their points and so containing the supporting cast will be key to getting a win.
Doc Rivers vs Erik Spoelstra
Spoelstra has gotten a lot of criticism for the Heat's performance or lack there of early in the LeBron/Wade era. But recently he has been also getting credit for their improvement. However, Doc is still the more experienced coach and should have the advantage here. The more intense the games, the more having an experienced coach is important and so the coaching advantage goes to the Celtics. Keys to the GameDefense
- Both teams pride themselves on their defense. In the playoffs so far, The Celtics are #1 holding teams to 83.9 points per game and 40.8% shooting. The Heat are right behind them at #2 holding teams to 85.6 points and 41.1% shooting. This will be a defensive battle and neither team can afford to let up on their defensive efforts. Rebound
- The Celtics have to limit the Heat's second chance baskets and fast breaks by crashing the boards. The amount of effort put into winning the rebound battle often follows through to the other areas of the game. The Celtics must be aggressive in beating the Heat to rebounds on both ends of the floor. The Celtics are ranked 10th in rebounding in the post season and the Heat are ranked 14th with 39.6 per game. But then again, the Celtics have had more rebounds to get in their series with how horribly both teams shot the ball. In this series, every player must make it a priority to go after rebounds. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have got to be aggressive in getting to the basket and not settle for jumpers all game. They also have to be aggressive in diving for loose balls and winning the 50-50 battles. The Celtics can't afford to give up possessions by failing to hustle after loose balls and after rebounds. They also must go to the basket especially if the jumpers aren't falling. Team Ball
- The Celtics need to play team ball. When they move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man and play as a team, they are tough to beat. When they revert to hero ball and there is little ball movement and they settle for quick shots, they rarely win. Rondo is a big part of keeping the ball moving and setting up the offense and so hopefully he will be at his best in this series. They need team play to beat the Heat, who depend on their 2 stars to do most of the scoring.
- One of the weaknesses of the Heat is their bench. Their bench is not very deep. The Celtics bench is also not very deep at this point due to injuries. If the Celtics can get quality minutes from Stiemsma and Hollins at center and from both Dooling and Pietrus and possibly Marquis and Sasha, that will give the Celtics a boost and it will also give the starters some much needed rest to be fresh at the end of the game. X-Factors
Rust vs Rest & Officials
The Heat have been off since Thursday and have had a chance to rest some and heal some nagging injuries. The Celtics have had just one day off and are battling an array of injuries and could have used some rest themselves. Pierce has said that he would rather keep playing instead of sit around but with the older legs and the injuries, they could have used at least another day off.
Anyone who has watched the Heat this year knows that they get way more then their share of the calls in a game. LeBron averaged less than 1 personal foul a game in the series vs Indiana. For a player that drives into the paint with his shoulder dipped down like a linebacker and who pushes and shoves on every rebound, that is pretty unbelievable. We know that Miami will get the calls and the Celtics need to be ready for that and play through the bad calls and no calls. It would be huge if the officials call the game fairly.