at Boston Celtics (11-8, 3-3) at Miami Heat (11-6, 3-3)
Saturday, June 9, 2012
8:30 PM ET
Playoff Game #20 Road Game #10
TV: ESPN, TSN
Radio: WEEI, ESPN Radio
American Airlines Arena Probable Starting MatchupsPoint Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Mario ChalmersShooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James Power Forward
Brandon Bass vs Shane Battier Center
Kevin Garnett vs Udonis Haslem Boston's Reserves
Paul Pierce (knee) will play
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) will play
Ray Allen (ankle) will play
Greg Stiemsma (feet)will play
Rajon Rondo (back, elbow) will play
Avery Bradley (shoulder) outMiami's Reserves
Dexter Pittman Injuries
Chris Bosh (ab strain) will playGame Notes
Here we are again at yet another game 7. Many have written off the Celtics and say there is no way they can win this game on the Heat's floor where they have been tough to beat all season. But then again they said that before game 5 also. If any team can beat the odds and pull out this win, it is this Celtics team.
If the Celtics need any motivation beyond the fact that they are in game 7, they need look no further than the final 3 minutes of their blow out loss to the Heat in game 6. Celtics fans stood for the final 3 minutes of that game sending them off to this game with a "Let's Go Celtics" chant that has to still echo in their heads. If that doesn't make them leave it all out on the court, I don't know what will.
The Celtics have been there before. The Celtics have played in (28) and won (21) more game sevens than any other team in the league. This version of the Celtics have faced their share of game sevens including one versus the Sixers in the previous round. They made game sevens a regular practice on their way to the championship in 2008.
They could have made it easy on themselves by showing up for game 6 but they didn't. They could have been resting and waiting for the Finals to begin, but they aren't. But, this team doesn't seem to like taking the easy route and if any team can win a game 7 on the road, I'll go with this team. You’ve probably forgotten all about them by now.
Nothing left in the tank, nothing left to prove, too slow, too injury prone, too much mileage. Hmm…
You better hope you’re right, because here they come and what some call age.
They call experience, grit, toughness, leadership, moxie, savvy, passion, desire, heart and these guys are at their best when the stakes get BIG.Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers
As we have seen over and over this post season, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. The Celtics need Rondo to be aggressive and to have a huge game, not just scoring, but leading the offense and keeping the offense moving. He can't let the team lapse into hero ball. Triple Double Rondo would be great. They also have to stick with Chalmers on the perimeter because he is more aggressive on offense at home.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
LeBron James took over game 6 and got his team the win to keep his team alive in the series. At the same time, Paul Pierce struggled mightily, shooting just 4-18 from the floor. The Celtics need Pierce to come out of his slump and if his shot is still off, to take over other areas of the game, crashing the boards, defending against James, and finding his teammates for open shots. Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh (or whoever)
Along with everyone else, KG had an off night in game 6. The Celtics need the other-worldly KG that we have seen in most of the games this post season. He needs to grab more than 5 rebounds. Part of the reason for the Celtics inability to stay with the Heat was the failure to get rebounds, giving the Heat second chance points and keeping the Celtics one shot and done. KG has to go inside more in this game on both offense and defense.
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 and in their losses in these playoffs. He's in a lose lose situation because when the Heat lose he is blamed but when they win it's the players and not Spo. 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. Let's hope Doc is at his best in this one. Keys to the GameDefense
- The Celtics defense was a step slow in game 6. They must play the in your face defense that got them to this point from start to finish. They must limit the Heat's shots at the basket and box out to prevent put backs on second chance shots. They also must stay with the perimeter shooters who will undoubtedly shoot better at home. 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 team that wins the rebounding battle usually wins the game. Being aggressive on the boards is a huge key to winning the game. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have got to be aggressive in getting to the basket and not settle for jumpers all game, especially if they aren't falling again. They have to focus on finishing and not just trying to draw contact because more often than not, they aren't going to get the call. 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. 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 (or 3) stars to do most of the scoring.
- The Celtics must get contributions from their bench. The games that the Celtics have won in this series, they have had one of the reserves come up big. The Celtics need for Pietrus, Dooling, Daniels and Stiemsma to contribute on both ends if the Celtics are to have a chance in this game. X-Factors
Focus and Officiating
The Celtics didn't appear to be all that focused in game 6. They weren't running their sets, weren't playing Celtics defense and weren't hitting their shots, including their free throws. On the other hand, you could tell that LeBron was focused on the game and locked in to get the win. Every one of the Celtics must come into this game focused on playing team ball and on getting the win and they must keep that focus from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
There has been a focus on the officiating in this series and that will likely continue in this game. Officiating has been a factor in this series, most notably in the second game when Wade's hit to Rondo's head was ignored at the end of OT. We have seen other series affected by officiating as well. Hopefully the officials in this game will call it fair and allow the players to decide the outcome.