The Celtics and Heat are facing off in an epic matchup that kicks off tomorow afternoon. So as we wait for the tip, here's a look at what's being said about the series from the Miami perspective.
Heat Index: For the Heat, guarding Rajon Rondo is often nothing more than an exercise in damage control. What makes Rajon Rondo so tough to guard is that he thrives on possibility. He has a unique capacity to guide the Celtics through multiple offensive options every trip down the floor. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on opposing defenses, and early in the season the Heat were unprepared for Rondo’s special combination of pace, vision and intelligence. He carved up the Heat with 33 assists in their first two meetings, but Miami’s defense evolved, and Rondo was significantly less effective when the teams met twice in the second half of the season.
Sun-Sentinel: Heat guard Mike Bibby gets right to the point. He played poorly in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers. He admits it. Now, it's time to move on. The Heat will need more from Bibby if there is any chance of getting past the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. "I didn't really do anything," Bibby said. "Like I said, my comfort and confidence level wasn't really there. I felt pretty good, I was just missing shots. That's not going to go on forever, and I know that. The main thing is I can't stop being aggressive."
Miami Herald: LeBron James planned to spend a large part of Saturday studying film, looking for any edge that the Miami Heat may use against the Boston Celtics. Film from this season, that is. No need to watch the Celtics inflicting past playoff wounds on him. Those remain fresh – and time has not yet healed them. The inability to beat Boston is one of the biggest reasons why James is now wearing a Miami Heat uniform. He'll get a third attempt to top the Celtics in a postseason series starting Sunday when the teams collide in Game 1 of what may easily become an epic Eastern Conference semifinal.
Heat Index: In the debate over the Heat’s starting lineup, two camps have been formed: one that prefers the floor-spacing of Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and the one that vouches for the athleticism of Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony. As radical as it sounds, I’m advocating for a third way: the one that calls for Bibby and Anthony next to the Big Three. The lineup played only nine minutes together in the Sixers series, but the margin while it was on the floor? Heat 18, Sixers 4. This isn’t just a postseason fluke; that unit outscored opponents 84-68 in 35 minutes of action during the regular season. Compare that to the Heat’s current starting lineup, which has been outscored by 30 points in 2010-11.
Sun Sentinel: prior to his departure for Sunday's series opener against the Heat, Celtics forward Glen Davis offered his perspective on Bosh. "I consider him like a European player, almost, because he can shoot and dribble," Davis said. The comment came in the midst of lavish praise for Bosh, there was no ill intent. But in the NBA, right or wrong, "European" long has been taken as subtext for soft. Davis did little to dissuade that characterization with his ensuing comment. "We just have to be physical with him and make sure he doesn't have it easy," Davis said. "Make everything tough for him."
Miami Herald: Ainge realized that in order for Boston to win its 18th title, it would have to be able to go small, run and space the floor against Miami. Ironic then, that the Eastern Conference semifinals, which start at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, might come down to Boston’s two biggest players, both of whom the Heat is very familiar with. Former Heat centers Jermaine O’Neal and (the Celtics hope) Shaquille O’Neal will be shouldered with the task of standing between the human locomotives known as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and the rim. Though the O’Neals’ best offensive days are far behind them, both present a 7-foot problem for Miami’s expert slashers.