Miami Heat 28 - 12 at Boston Celtics 20 - 23
Result of last meeting: Boston 107 – Miami 120
The Miami Heat will be at the TD garden today for a matinee game against the Boston Celtics. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the NBA’s opening night. Today’s game will also be Ray Allen’s first game back at the Garden since leaving the Celtics for the Heat last summer. The Heat enters the game fresh off a 110 to 88 victory Friday night over the Detroit Pistons that pushes their winning streak to four games.
While the Heat have established themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference so far this season, the Celtics have continued to be a disappointment. Their losing streak was extended to six games after a depressing loss Friday night to the Atlanta Hawks where they blew a twenty-seven point lead and lost 123 to 111 in double overtime.
This afternoon’s match up will be a difficult one for the Celtics, as they are facing a Heat team that has a trio of all-stars and is led by Lebron James, who is at the top of his game. Nevertheless, they are not unbeatable and if the Celtics are going to break their six game losing streaks and get a win, they will have to do the following.
Take advantage of the Heat in the paint
The Heat does not have an interior presence to protect the basket. This should provide opportunities for the Celtics guards and wings to score in the paint. Rajon Rondo in particular should be able to create opportunities for his teammates and himself with relative ease. Furthermore, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry also have the quickness to breakdown the Heat defense and put up big numbers against the Eastern Conference frontrunner.
Control the boards
In order for the Celtics to win they will need to limit the number of opportunities that James, Dwyane Wade and their teammates get on the offensive end of the floor. To do this they will have to take advantage of the Heat’s weakness at rebounding the basketball. While the Celtics have had their own problem rebounding this season, they have been better this past month. Kevin Garnett, Jared Sullinger and Rondo have been the main catalysts for the improved rebounding and they will need to continue this effort today to be successful.
Be disciplined on the defensive end of the floor
At Doc Rivers’s press conference following Friday’s night’s loss to the Hawks he stated that “Players are not getting back defensively and are just making up assignments on the defensive end of the floor.” The Celtics cannot afford to continue this habit and they will have to be disciplined on the defensive end and follow the game plan if they are going to overcome the Heat this afternoon.
Focus on the offensive end of the floor
The Celtics have had a problem holding onto the ball in crucial situations lately and they can ill afford to continue their clumsiness against the Heat. The Heat thrives off of turnovers and both James and Wade are deadly in the open court. If the Celtics are lackadaisical with the ball it will doom them.
A return to form from Paul Pierce
Pierce has been in a serious funk at both ends of the floor over the past six games and his lackluster play has cost the Celtics dearly. If the Celtics are going to pull out a win they are going to need a return to form from Pierce, because his scoring and defense are necessary to minimize the effect James will have on the game.
The Celtics are going up against the best team in the Eastern Conference. However, the Heat are not without weaknesses and the Celtics can capitalize on these weaknesses by controlling the boards and driving the ball into the paint for easy baskets. They will also need to stick to the defensive game plan and not turnover the basketball on the offensive end to stop the Heat from getting easy baskets. Lastly, Paul Pierce has to snap out of his funk and contribute on both ends of the court for the Celtics to come away with a victory over the Heat.