Turning the Tide in South Beach


The Boston Celtics suffered one of the worst defeats of their season on Monday in Miami. It wasn’t one of the worst in terms of scoring, but it was in execution and team togetherness.

Boston lost to Miami 93-79. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for only six made field goals and 18 points. Rajon Rondo didn’t have a good game either despite his method of attacking the basket. He finished the game with 17 points on 20 shots with seven assists and nine rebounds. Rondo couldn’t get a hold of the offense and control the pace of the game like he intended to. Kevin Garnett was really the only productive Celtic–he finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Its obvious that the Celtics need to make some adjustments in the next game and I think it starts on the defensive end. Protecting the paint is a must–Miami scored 46 points in the paint and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were getting all of the inside shots that they wanted. Dunk after dunk after dunk was coming and it didn’t seem like it was going to stop.

Miami was too quick, even in the half-court, for the Celtics. To counter that speed Boston needs to play a zone. They hardly practice zone, but it worked in the short stint that Boston played it on Monday. The looks that Miami got from the zone were two threes from Shane Battier, one three from Mario Chalmers, two fade-away off the backboard jumpers by James and Wade, and also an insane lefty lay-up from Dwyane Wade. The only looks that went down were the ones from Wade and James.

If I’m Doc Rivers I don’t want to toy around and wait for Miami to go small on me again. That provided them with a mismatch of a guard on Kevin Garnett. On Monday, that happened to be Mike Miller. If you leave him he’ll be able to make shots. They couldn’t close out fast enough on Miller and he hit two threes because of that. A zone will solve that problem surely.

Boston left a lot of points on the floor on Monday as well. They only made 11-21 free throws. I doubt that happens again. They just looked gassed down the stretch and I think their free throws reflected that. I think that if Doc Rivers goes through with not playing Ray Allen that could help the defense. Keyon Dooling and Mickael Pietrus will get more minutes. Those are more active bodies that have a better chance of staying in front of Dwyane Wade. With the way Allen is playing right now, he’s not helping the Celtics at all. I think that the other two will give more of an edge to Boston.

Steimsa needs to get more minutes in this series as well. He’s an active body that is able to protect the paint and give good fouls. That’s what the Celtics were severely lacking in their game one loss.

I think that when Miami goes small, if Boston doesn’t counter with zone, they need to go small as well. They should have one big on the floor at a time or Steimsa and another big should to be on the floor because of his high energy play. He’s got length and can close out on the ball will if needed, but he must not be put in the position where he has to guard someone who can take him off the dribble.

It’ll be interesting to see what defensive strategies Doc Rivers employs tonight. Its safe to say that this is a must win for Boston. Its do or die, can the Celtics survive?