The Boston Celtics are facing the Miami Heat tonight in American Airlines Center for what could be the final time in the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen big three era.
Everything is riding on this game. These guys, who love playing together, may be in for their last game together. If they win this game they’re going to the NBA Finals for the third time since 2008 as well. LeBron James, who they love beating, is in front of the door to the Finals with a big three of his own as well. The bright lights are on and the whole world is watching. In circumstances like these the Celtics are famous for getting up, but Miami may rise to the occasion like they did in game six.
Miami’s best is obviously better than Boston’s best and the Celtics must not allow them to get into a rhythm. LeBron James had 45 and shot 73% from the field. At one point in this game he was 10 for 11 from the field. He hit a lot of tough shots that the Celtics will live with. That’s fine–but at the same time they must play him more aggressively. When he was getting into the lane there was very little weakside help and recovery. Luckily his teammates played horribly and the score wasn’t worse than it was(and it was already a blowout).
Boston seemed to get away from its strategy of using Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo to orchestrate the offense. Paul Pierce got a lot of touches when I didn’t think that he should have. The ball stopped moving and Miami was able to grasp it defensively and never let go. As a result Boston only had 14 assists and Paul Pierce only shot 4-18 from the field and scored 9 points with a very sloppy effort.
Pierce will likely bounce back from that if the Celtics play their best. He’s a gamer and knows that he have a terrible game. After having an amazing shot in game five I was surprised Pierce had this type of an effort in game six. It isn’t like him to play poorly once he gets going. I think that Rondo had a lot to do with that though.
On the surface it looks like Rondo played a good game but that’s very far from the truth. While Rondo did have 21 points on 14 shots to go along with 10 assists, he did have 7 turnovers as well. I saw him trying to make a lot of passes that weren’t very smart and had a high degree of difficulty to them. He can make difficult passes–that’s not what the problem was. The problem was the fact that his teammates weren’t on the same page with him when making those passes. That’s how we can tell that he was forcing things a little bit.
Boston must calm down and play their game. It all starts with defense. LeBron surely won’t have the epic night that he did a few nights ago to force a game 7 here. Those are games that only come around every once in a while. That doesn’t mean that he’ll have a bad game. He could play great–he’s done such in every night of the playoffs.
Its helping that the Celtics are keeping Dwyane Wade on lock as well. Without his consistent offense the Celtics have every chance in the world to win this game.
Offensively they must not get away from what they want to do and taking the shots that they want to take. They were getting too caught up in the mismatches that Miami’s switching was giving them. When a team switches you don’t automatically attack the mismatch because it’ll turn into an isolation play. That’s what Boston got a lot of last game. Instead they must continue to play within themselves and the flow of the offense. The attack of the mismatch will come. As long as you score points it really doesn’t matter who you score them on.
This game means everything to Boston right now. In his postgame press conference Doc Rivers said that the Celtics were packing for the Finals as well as the game tonight. That shows a lot of confidence from a bunch that has really exuded that for the past five years. I’ve loved seeing them play together as well as the maturation process of Rajon Rondo. Regardless of how this game goes, it’ll have been a privilege to watch these guys play together.
Their last game will be tonight in Miami on ESPN at 8:30.