Celtics vs. Heat: 5 Things Doc Rivers Must Do to Get Past the Miami Heat
The Boston Celtics are headed to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth time in the last five years, and the team may be facing its tallest postseason task of the "Big Three" era against the Miami Heat.
Though the Celtics' players are ultimately the ones who will decide their team's fate, head coach Doc Rivers is the one who must utilize his players in all the right ways.
If the veteran Celtics hope to slow down Wade, James and Co., Rivers will need to out-coach and outsmart Erik Spoelstra.
Here are the five essential things Doc Rivers must do in his team's matchup against the Miami Heat in order to stand a fighting chance of returning to the NBA Finals.
Take Advantage of a Bosh-Less Miami Team
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra announced Monday that Chris Bosh's status of "out indefinitely" still remains.
With Bosh off the floor, Kevin Garnett will have a great opportunity to continue his incredible offensive play this postseason. Defensively, Bosh is the only player who can match up well with Garnett and force him to take tough shots from the perimeter.
As it is, Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony are going to have a heck of a time containing Garnett and his ability to step out and shoot the ball.
Not only will Garnett have an advantage offensively, but not having to guard Chris Bosh and his versatile offensive game will allow the veteran Garnett to conserve energy—possibly resulting in an increase in minutes and offense for KG and the Cs.
Contain LeBron James
Easier said than done, right?
It might not be as crazy as it sounds.
LeBron and the Heat faced a pretty tough defensive team in the conference semifinals versus the Indiana Pacers, but the lack of experience and quickness were the downfall for Indiana defensively, and LeBron took full advantage.
Boston is a bit more disciplined defensively and should be able to do a better job of disrupting the Wade-James duo.
No doubt, there is no such thing as shutting down LeBron James, but there is the possibility of being able to contain him.
The Spurs did it against Russel Westbrook in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, allowing him just 17 points on 7-of-21 shooting.
LeBron James will get his stats, but if he cannot do so as efficiently and effectively as he generally does, the Celtics' defense will have done its job.
Once again, the loss of Bosh will allow the Celtics to focus on keeping James out of the paint.
Trust the New Guy
Brandon Bass had a coming out party in Game 5 of the Celtics' series against the Philadelphia 76ers when he exploded for 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting.
If the most unknown player of the five starters for the Celtics can step up and continue his increased productivity, the Cs will receive some much-needed offense.
Bass' offensive versatility at the power forward position may be able to provide some defensive problems for Miami.
Bass averaged only nine points per game in the Celtics' first-round series versus the Atlanta Hawks and increased his average to 14 a game against the Sixers in the second round.
Look for Coach Rivers to continue utilizing his young power forward.
Release the Rondo
If there's one matchup the Celtics are certain they have the advantage in, it would be the point guard position.
Rajon Rondo has averaged over 12 assists a game this postseason, and don't expect his productivity to go down.
Rondo is also an excellent defender and can play very physical when he needs to. He should be able to disrupt the Miami's offense through Mario Chalmers. He will also be able to step out on Wade when he needs to occasionally do so.
Rondo will be causing all kinds of problems for the Heat on both offense and defense, so expect Rivers to give him as many minutes as his point guard can handle.
Control the Paint
This is where the series will be won or lost.
Miami counts on its dynamic duo of Wade and James to get to the rim and wreak havoc on defenses. If Doc Rivers can get his men to clog up the lane and slow down Miami's superstars, they'll be in the driver's seat.
This was one of the keys to the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Finals last year against the Miami Heat: when LeBron is kept out of the paint, he settles for poor perimeter shots.
Same goes for Wade.
The Celtics will need to use their height against the Heat and win the rebound battles night in and night out.
Without a doubt, the Boston Celtics will need to play as physically as possible around the rim and eliminate all easy baskets.
The Heat will get to the hoop, but Boston needs to live up to its name as a chippy team and shut down the paint.