Miami Heat-Boston Celtics Game 2 Preview

May 3, 2011

The Miami Heat will look to put the Boston Celtics in a daunting two-games-to-none hole this evening when the two teams resume their hotly contested series in South Beach.

The Heat were powered to a 99-90 Game 1 win on the strength of a virtuoso performance by Dwyane Wade, who poured in 38 points, missing just seven shots in the process. LeBron James also contributed to the win with a quietly effective effort of 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Even more surprising than Wade's offensive efficiency however, was the 25 points tallied off the bench from Miami native James Jones, who single-handedly outscored the entire Celtics bench.

If Boston hopes to even the series up before heading back to Beantown, they will absolutely need to do a better job of limiting Jones' wide open looks at the basket, as he consistently was able to cleanly catch and shoot with no Celtics closing out on him.

The Celtics got 25 and a solid 19 from wingmen Ray Allen and Paul Pierce respectively, however the big turning point for them came when Pierce was ejected from the game with seven minutes remaining. On that controversial play, Wade clearly lowered his shoulder into the C's swingman while trying to run through a screen along the baseline.

Mere moments earlier, Pierce had a physical altercation with Jones, who had committed a flagrant foul on the Celtics' star after going for a Pierce shot fake.

These two incidents were but two examples of countless instances of rough, chippy play, which became exacerbated by the uneven officiating and dubious calls from the referees.

Nevertheless, if Boston hopes to even things and stay in this series, they will clearly need much better performances from at least two -- if not all -- of their starters, as enigmatic point guard Rajon Rondo was virtually invisible after picking up three early fouls, and Kevin Garnett had a very pedestrian 6-point, 8-rebound outing.

As any Celtics' observer knows, Garnett is vital to Boston's operation because he typically sets the tone defensively for the men in green by quarterbacking and pulling the strings on the back line of the defensive end.

While Garnett and center Jermaine O'Neal did do a good job intimidating Heat starter Chris Bosh into a 3-10 shooting effort, they still must do more.

That they effectively nullified Bosh into a typically timid performance is no shocker, nor any kind of notable achievement, since any type of physical, take-no-prisoners playoff series will surely produce similar results from Bosh -- a player who seems to lack the kind of intestinal fortitude necessary to excel in pressure-filled playoff moments.

Rondo meanwhile, must also do a better job on the defensive end by: 1) pestering Wade, LeBron, and the rest of the Heat perimeter players; 2) getting his hands on balls in the passing lanes; and 3) swooping in for rebounds and then immediately getting out and leading the C's on the break in transition.

Offensively, Rondo must be more of a table-setter for the Celtics big guns, namely Pierce and Allen.

Lastly, and most surprisingly, the Celtics vaunted reserves were outscored, though not necessarily outplayed, by Miami's bench.

Going into this series most, including this writer, believed that the bench was the one area in which Boston would enjoy a decided advantage.

With Delonte West (10 points in 26 Game 1 minutes), Glen "Big Baby" Davis (a quiet 4 points), and the recently-acquired Jeff Green (9 points), Boston figured to have significantly more productivity off its bench during the post-season than Miami.

While Miami has desperately missed the tough, gritty, and selfless play of the unheralded Udonis Haslem the entire year, they have consistently been letdown by the inconsistent play of swingman Mike Miller.  Although in his defense, Miller has been plagued by hand and thumb injuries throughout the year, he has done absolutely nothing to warrant his free agent deal, ostensibly given to him to help lighten the scoring burden on the Heat's Big Three.

That being said, the Heat do have some reserve players with the potential for offensive outbursts in guards Eddie House and Mario Chalmers, and a pair of unspectacular, yet hard-working Canadian big men in Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire.

In a pinch, they can also throw in the ageless Juwan Howard (who miraculously still looks exactly the same as when he first entered the league some 17 years ago).

In Game 2, the Celtics will definitely have to do a better job in slowing down D-Wade.

At a minimum, Boston must help more defensively with their bigs in the lane in order to block his path to the paint. However, this is also a risky proposition, as it could lead to LeBron becoming more of a facilitator out of the point forward position, which is when the Heat could be at their most dangerous.

On the other hand, if Boston succeeds in turning up the heat defensively (no pun intended), this will almost certainly lead to a better, more cohesive offensive effort, as Rondo and the rest of the C's success seemingly is predicated on how well he plays defensively.

Barring another 25-point outing from Jones, the Heat should look to establish Bosh down low early, as he is literally the closest thing they have to a low-post threat. As we all know, playoff success usually begins from the inside out.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers should also look to bring West and Green in earlier to spell Allen and Pierce respectively, as they each will be vital cogs who must be counted on going forward if the C's are to make another deep run past the Heat, and beyond.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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