Time To Play Like It's 1969! Miami Heat (10-3, 2-0) at Boston Celtics (8-7, 0-2)
Friday, June 1, 2012
8:30 PM ET
Playoff Game #16, Home Game #8
Radio: WEEI, ESPN Radio
TD Garden Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
Brandon Bass vs Shane Battier
Kevin Garnett vs Ronny Turiaf Reserves
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) outReserves
Chris Bosh (ab strain) outGame Notes
As the series shifts back to Boston, the Celtics will attempt to do something they haven't done since 1969, and that is to come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a playoff series. Only 14 teams have ever come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best of 7 playoff series. The team that wins the first 2 games goes on to win the series 94% of the time. But, never underestimate the heart of a champion.
The Celtics were counted out at the beginning of the season when they got off to a slow start. They were counted out mid season when they lost 7 of 8 going into the All Star game. They were counted out when they lost the series opener to Atlanta. Once again, they were counted out when they lost home court to Philly. They are too old, too beat up, too slow, etc. They have defied the critics so far and are hoping to defy the critics once again beginning with this game and taking it one game at a time as they try to defy statistics that say that they won't win this series.
Don't expect Wade and James to get complacent with a 2-0 lead. Both players have been on the other side of an 0-2 comeback to win a series. Wade led a Heat comeback from a 2-0 series deficit against Dallas in the 2006 NBA finals (with, of course, a lot of help from the refs). James rallied his Cavs from an 0-2 deficit to win the Eastern Conference crown against Detroit in 2007.
There has been much talk about the officiating in both games so far. While the officiating in game 1 was bad, the Celtics lost that because they played poorly. Game 2, was a different story in that calls (and non-calls) down the stretch had a definite influence on the outcome of the game. We would hope, especially after the non-call on Wade's face rake of Rondo, that the refs would owe the Celtics one going into game 3. I'm not all that confident that the Celtics will get the benefit of the calls, even in Boston.
It's time for Celtic Pride to kick in. The Celtics played very well but they could play better as a team. They had a lapse where they allowed the Heat to come back from a 15 point deficit. Paul Pierce could have played better. The bench can definitely play much better. They have room to improve, but the question will be whether they have the legs and the energy to do so. Rondo played the entire 53 minutes and KG, Pierce and Ray all played over 40 minutes and they play again on just one day of rest.
If heart counts for anything, I'll put my money on the Celtics to win this one and to take the series. If their bodies can keep up with their hearts, the series will be tied going back to Miami. Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers
As always, Rondo is the key to the Celtics offense, defense, and energy. Rondo played a game of historic proportions in game 2. It's hard to imagine that he could play better. But I believe that he can have another great game in spite of playing 53 minutes 2 nights ago. Mario Chalmers had a big game 2 also and was able to keep the Heat in the game when the Celtics were able to limit Wade and James. The Celtics need to stay with Chalmers as he is capable of hitting big shots.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
Pierce must be more aggressive in going to the basket and trying to draw fouls. He had NO free throws in game 1 and shot just 6 in game 2. Of course getting to the line will also depend on the refs calling fouls on the Heat, which they haven't been doing in either game so far . The Celtics also need Pierce to be more aggressive on the boards. He also must continue to limit LeBron from getting to the hoop but do so without fouling out. The Celtics need more from their Captain and they need him on the court at the end of the game.
Kevin Garnett vs Ronny Turiaf/Joel Anthony
KG was once again irate after game 2. He played 45 minutes and was the recipient of a questionable call himself when Wade was awarded a basket and free throw after kicking KG in the groin and then again in the chest MMA style as he went to the basket, While playing big minutes may take a toll on him, I expect KG to come out strong and have a big game in this one.
Keys to the GameRun the Offense
- The Celtics must run their sets and move the ball. The Celtics are at their best when they are moving the ball and making the extra pass and finding the open man. Along with moving the ball, they have to make smart passes and not the sloppy passes that lead to turnovers since turnovers against the Heat usually lead to a LeBron or Wade dunk at the other end. The Celtics must be aggressive in going to the basket and either score, draw a foul or kick it out to the open man. Rebound
- The Celtics got out worked on the boards 48-33 in game 1. The rebounds in game 2 were even at 42. Much of rebounding is desire and effort. How else can you explain 6'1" Rondo out rebounding everyone on the court? The Celtics have got to put out more effort in going after rebounds and crashing the boards. The team that wins the rebounding battle more often than not wins the game. Defense
- Defense wins championships. That's not just a cute saying, either. The Celtics played much better defense in game 2 but slacked off in the 3rd quarter, allowing the Heat to overcome the lead that the Celtics had built. The Celtics have got to play in your face defense from start to finish. They proved that they can defend the Heat and take both Wade and James out of their offensive flow in game 2 and they must do that once again. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be the more aggressive team if they want to win this game. They have to be the team that wins the 50/50 balls. They have to be the team more aggressive on the boards. They must be the more aggressive team in going to the hoop and finishing at the hoop, not just driving toward the basket and hoping to get the foul because as we have seen in the games so far, the refs don't always call the fouls even when they are obvious. And they have to be the more aggressive team on defense. They can't allow the Heat to outwork them. Bench Play
- The Celtics must get more from their bench. The Celtics got just 7 points from their bench in game 2. The Heat, whose bench is supposed to be one of their weaknesses scored 25. Pietrus, Dooling, and Stiemsma have got to give the Celtics more quality minutes and they have to be able to give the Celtics more points off the bench. X-Factors
Physical Ability and Officiating
The Celtics have heart and they have pride, but do they have enough left in the tank to play harder than the Heat. Rondo played 53 minutes in game 2 and Pierce, KG and Ray all played over 40 minutes. Hopefully they can recover from the disappointment and physical rigors of game 2 to take this game.
The officiating in game 1 was absolutely horrible. The officiating in game 2 was even worse. Will the officials call it fair or will they once again hit the Celtics with phantom fouls and allow the Heat free reign to rake players across the face without even making a play for the ball or kick players in the chest and be rewarded for it? The Celtics already have an uphill battle overcoming age and injuries without also having to overcome one sided officiating as well. The league and the officials definitely owe one to the Celtics but I wish I had more confidence that they will do the right thing.