|Record: 56-26 (1st Atlantic, 3rd East)||Record: 58-24 (1st Southeast, 2nd East)|
|Home: 33-8 Road: 23-18||Home: 30-11 Road: 28-13|
Game 1 – Sun May 1 Boston at Miam, 3:30pm on ABC
Game 2 – Tue May 3 Boston at Miami, 7pm on TNT
Game 3 – Sat May 7 Miami at Boston, 8pm on ABC
Game 4 – Mon May 9 Miami at Boston, 7pm on TNT
Game 5 – Wed May 11 Boston at Miami, TBD on TNT
Game 6 – Fri May 13 Miami at Boston, TBD on ESPN
Game 7 – Mon May 16 Boston at Miami, 8pm on TNT
|Buckets: Pierce (18.9 ppg)||Buckets: LeBron James (26.7 ppg)|
|Boards: KG (8.9 rpg)||Boards: Chris Bosh (8.3 rpg)|
|Dimes: Rondo (11.2 apg)||Dimes: James (7.0 apg)|
|For the Stat Geeks:||For the Stat Geeks:|
|Offensive Rating: 106.2 (18th NBA)||Offensive Rating: 111.7 (3rd NBA)|
|Defensive Rating: 100.3 (2nd NBA)||Defensive Rating: 103.5 (5th NBA)|
|Pace: 90.4 (22nd NBA)||Pace: 90.9 (20th NBA)|
The Celtics took 3-of-4 from Miami in the regular season. Miami's April 10th beatdown has everyone forgetting how easily the Celtics handled the Heatles in the regular season.
Get it to:
John – Ray Allen
LeBron James will have Pierce occupied on both ends. And Pierce's offense will probably suffer as he keeps LBJ in check. Dwyane Wade will probably check Rondo so he can roam around and help. Which leaves Mario Chalmers or Mike Bibby trying to follow Ray around. There's your go-to guy right there. There's no way any of those guys will hang with him. With the Celtics motion offense back from the dead, Ray's going to get a lot of open looks against some bad defenders.
KWAPT – Paul Pierce & Ray Allen
I know Rondo is the cog that makes this Celtics engine go, but why not ride the success that Paul and Ray had last series. I, like Tommy Heinsohn, love the Celtics chances when Paul attacks. Trying to get Lebron in early foul trouble and on his heels works for me. I don't like this kid under pressure no matter how talented he is. Ray Allen has really gotten into a groove early this post season. And when he scores 20 or more, the C's are almost unbeatable.
Chuck: Rajon Rondo
The Rondo that slayed New York needs to show up in Miami. In the Celtics first two wins over the Heat, he totaled 33 assists. In the last two games, he amassed only 15. There's a reason Paul Pierce and Ray Allen had so many good looks vs NY. And did I mention the Heat have NO ONE who can guard him?
Jay: Rajon Rondo
During the pre-game show prior to opening night when the Celtics hosted the Heat, Mike Gorman asked Tommy Heinsohn to compare the "Big Three" vs the "New Three." This variable is akin to solving an algebraic equation. In one way or another you would expect each three to cancel each other out on both sides, making Rondo variable X. He's clearly transformed into "Playoff Rondo" based on his obliteration of the New York Knicks' contingency of PG's and defenders. He did a number on Chauncey Billups before he got injured in Game 1, and made Toney Douglas look so bad that Sherman Douglas TODAY would have been a better option. Even when the Knicks sent Jared Jeffries to play 50 feet off him, Rondo still carved up the Knicks. Mike Bibby/Mario Chalmers/gimmick big man X should not pose a bigger challenge. In fact it should be even easier for Rondo. If he maintains "Playoff Mode" he is THE guy.
John: Chris Bosh
Ok, so LeBron is going to get his as best he can. Same with Wade. But the C's will focus on limiting those guys to jump shots. That's where the team effort will focus. But if the C's can neutralize Bosh, then LeBron and Wade will feel the pressure to make up the difference, Bosh will sulk, and the questions will start to surface again for the Heat. There's nothing quite as disruptive as a guy who begs for shots after a loss.
KWAPT: Chris Bosh
Yeah, yeah..laugh all you want. But Boshasaurus Rex gained alot of confidence during the Sixers series. He averaged just under a double-double with 19 & 9. And you're not going to "stop" 'Bron and Wade-they're going to get their buckets. But by containing Bosh, you put more pressure on those 2 and hopefully get Lebron to play some "hero ball" as Doc calls it.
Chuck: Dwyane Wade
How bad was Wade against Boston this year? He shot 28% from the field – 22% less than his season average. Whatever Lawrence Frank and Doc Rivers have designed to slow him down – they need to make sure the troops continue to implement it.
Jay: Dwyane Wade
The obvious choice here might be LeBron James for most people, but he's very difficult to contain, let alone "stop." My choice here is Wade and based on the C's strategy in the four regular season games it sure seems that they would agree. Look, you can't focus on just one of the "New Three," but Wade is the scorer of the bunch. In the four regular season games, the Celtics have held Wade to 16/57 shooting (28.1%), 12.8 PPG and forcing him to commit 5.3 turnovers per game. He's also been held to just 4.3/5.8 FT made/taken per game against the C's. His 2011 season averages in comparison are: 25.5 PPG, 9.1/18.2 FGM/A per game, 3.1 tunrovers per game and 6.5/8.6 FTM/A per game. It's clear that they want to make life difficult for Wade and they're smart with this approach.
The Wild Card:
John: The Celtics Bench
I know that benches aren't quite as important in the playoffs, but the Celtics could lean on Delonte West, Glen Davis and Jeff Green if Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett get into any early foul trouble… especially Pierce or Allen. Conversely, LeBron and Wade will have to hit the bench at some point. If the Celtics bench can step up and take advantage of those opportunities… then that will REALLY help shorten this series.
KWAPT: Jermaine O'Neal
He has gone above and beyond expectations this postseason. And with Shaq's status still up in the air, and no guarantee on how long/how much he'll play, J.O. is very important. In April 10th's 100-77 loss, J.O. had 0 pts, and 0 boards, but more importantly 0 blocks. It is defense and shot-blocking presence that will be needed against Miami. KG cannot be the only one defending the paint against Wade's slashing and 'Bron's hammering.
Chuck: Jeff Green
Here's the range of Heat players Jeff Green may be asked to guard: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, James Jones and Mike Miller. I don't want Green to worry about his offense. I'm hopeful Delonte West and Glen Davis will improve their play in this series. The Celtics need Green to defend and rebound whomever he is asked to guard.
Jay: Udonis Haslem
While we all remember the Celtics blowing out Miami in the first two games early in the season, Miami actually made quiet runs at the end of both games to make the final score look a lot more respectable and surprising in retrospect. The reason why? Haslem was the only one playing with balls. He was making shots and doing the dirty work while LeBron was complaining about Shaq's hard foul, while Wade was bobbling the ball out of bounds and while Rondo dunked over a stunned "Boshed in the headlights" defense. He's been out since November with a serious foot injury, but there have been rumors of his return. We saw what Joel Anthony of all people can do with some toughness down low. If Haslem can return and be any semblance of himself, he makes things a lot more interesting.
How we see it goin' down
John: Celtics in 6
The Celtics will come out and catch the notoriously slow-starting Miami Heat early. They'll withstand the comeback, and pull away as the Heat wilt down the stretch. The Heat will redeem themselves in Game 2, then home court will hold the rest of the way. The Heat will struggle with the Celtics defense. The Celtics offense will find holes in the Heat defense. LeBron and Wade will go a little crazy in a couple of games and carry the Heat on talent alone… but it won't nearly be enough. Celtics in 6.
KWAPT: Celitcs in 5
I see Boston winning this one in 5 if they execute and do not turn the ball over. I believe this team has hit it's peak (post-trade) and can only get better if Shaq is able to contribute moving forward. However, if we see the C's team that reared it's ugly head near the end of the regular-season, this thing could drag out for 6 or 7. It will be key for them to play Celtics basketball: tight execution, smothering defense and complete focus. If that's the case, which I strongly feel it will be, Miami's gone fishing in 5 games.
Chuck: Celtics in 6
The Celtics are the better TEAM. After playing 82 regular season games and 5 playoff games, the Heat still look discombobulated in the final minute of a close game. Erik Spoelstra is still tinkering with his rotation. Once Miami loses one of the first two home games, the pressure on them and Lebron will intensify to never-before-seen levels.
Jay: Celtics in 6
The Celtics love playing on the road in hostile arenas and just taking the life out of a team. They have proven in the playoffs that they are more than capable of winning key roads games against very good teams. Home court would be preferred of course, but the C's seem to enjoy playing on the road even more. Miami will be the most potent team they have ever played during the "New Big Three Era" not named the Lakers. But the Heat don't have the inside presence the Lakers have, and they certainly don't have anyone that can stop Rondo. If Rondo is in "Playoff Mode" and fully engages everyone, look for the C's to take it in 6.
For more on the Celtics/Heat series, check out this CSNNE series preview