vs Miami Heat (35-37) at Boston Celtics (47-26)
Sunday, March 26, 2017
6:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #74, Home Game #36
TV: CSNNE, FS Sun, NBA-LP 761(DTV)/752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 790 The Ticket
TD GardenProbable Starting Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs Goran Dragic
Jaylen Brown vs Josh RichardsonSmall Forward
Jae Crowder vs Rodney McGruderPower Forward
Amir Johnson vs Luke BabbittCenter
Al Horford vs Hassan Whiteside Celtics Reserves
Avery Bradley (gastroenteritis) questionable
Al Horford vs Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside has played very well since coming to the Heat, especially on defense. He is averaging 16.8 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He pulled down 17 rebounds in each of the first two meetings between these two teams. The Celtics will have a tough time scoring inside with Whiteside patrolling the paint. Al will need to pull him away from the basket to open up the paint for the Celtics.
Isaiah Thomas vs Goran Dragic
Former teammates match up against each other. Dragic is averaging 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists. They certainly know each other and their tendencies and so this should be a good matchup. Dragic scored 27 with 17 assists in the first meeting and 31 points with 7 assists in the second meeting and the Celtics will need to try to keep him from having another big game. Honorable Mention
Marcus Smart vs Tyler and James Johnnson
The two Johnsons are the Heat's 6th men. Tyler Johnson is averaging 13.7 points, which is the second most for any player without a start this season. James Johnson is averaging 12.3 points, which is the third most in the league for any player without a start. The Celtics, especially Marcus,. will need to defend these players to keep them from having a big game. James Johnson had 22 points in the third meeting between these two teams. Keys to the Game
Defense wins games. The Heat have a defensive rating of 104.0 while the Celtics have a defensive rating of 105.3. The Celtics should be capable of much better defense, given the very good individual defenders they have on the team. They must put it together to play tough team defense. The team that is able to lock down on defense will more than likely get the win.
The Heat are averaging 43.8 rebounds per game while the Celtics are averaging 42.0 rebounds per game. Crashing the boards will give the Celtics extra possessions as well as keeping the Heat from getting fast breaks and second chance points. However, Hassan Whiteside has been cleaning up on the glass for the Heat and the Celtics will need to work hard to win the rebounding battle. The Celtics are 22-2 when they grab more rebounds than their opponents. Be Aggressive
The Celtics have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling. They have to dive for loose balls and be aggressive in crashing the boards. They can't afford to slack off or to allow the Heat to play harder than them. They have to be the team that wants it more. Both of these teams have won by playing hard and so the Celtics have to put out extra effort to play harder. Play Hard and Focus for 48 Minutes
The starters need to come out and play aggressively from the beginning and the second unit needs to come in and pick up where they leave off. They have to attack the basket and be aggressive on defense for the whole 48 minutes. No letting up. The Heat are giving up the 3nd fewest points in the 4th quarter (24.6) and allowing teams to shoot just 42% in the final period (also 2nd lowest). The Celtics must stay focused through all 4 quarters and not let up, especially if they have a lead.X-Factors
- The Celtics are playing in the 4th of 6 straight home games. The Celtics have been playing well at home with a record of 26-9. They need to continue to draw energy from the home crowd and make it difficult for other teams to win at the Garden.
Don't Play to their Record
- The Celtics should not play to the Heat's sub .500 record. They started out 11-30 but since then, have been 25-7 and are one of the hottest teams in the league. If the Celtics underestimate them, they will end up with a loss. Officiating
- As always officiating is an x-factor. Every crew has their own way of calling a game and the Celtics have to adjust to the way it is being called. They may call every little touch foul or let them play and however they call it, it is crucial that the Celtics adapt to it.