As the Heat prepare for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals this evening, they should be ready to take on a refocused Boston squad.
After a tough 93-79 Game 1 loss, the Celtics had plenty to be cranky about. First, there was what they considered to be showboating by LeBron James and crew. Then there was James yelling in the face of Kevin Garnett—Lord knows that Garnett hasn't ever done that to anyone before—and finally, they were whistled for numerous technical fouls.
If that wasn't enough, Doc Rivers started yesterday's film session by showing all 19 of the layups that his team allowed in Game 1. He wanted them to be disappointed with how they came out in their first showing in Miami this postseason.
Rajon Rondo upped the intensity even more when he said that the Heat needed to "hit the deck, too" (via Sun Sentinel) like the Celtics had in Game 1. Rivers also said he thought that James and Dwyane Wade both got to play in their comfort zone in the loss.
On Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported that Rondo clarified his comments, saying,
“I didn’t say undercut them or take them down or play dirty,” he said. “It’s just basketball. I don’t think nobody is going to punk anybody out here. You can’t fight. You’ll get fined. There’s only so much you can do, as far as acting like a tough guy.”
Wade was ready to defend his team, saying,
“Obviously, you’ve got to protect yourself,” Wade said Tuesday after practice. “We’re men, just like they’re men. We’re not going to let nobody just come in and punk us.”
Rivers ranked the technical he was given in Game 1 as the worst in his career. Thanks to the comments made by his point guard, expect the officials to have a quick whistle tonight. Wanting to avoid going back to Boston without a win, it's obvious that the Celtics will be much more aggressive than they were on Monday night. Knowing that Boston is ready to amp things up, the Heat are probably going to continue to take it to rim and see how many layups they can generate in Game 2.
While making a statement and taking a stand is important, creating bulletin board material for your opponents isn't always the best move. Rondo's words—coupled with that film session—fired up his teammates. The problem is that they might have also fired up the Heat and gave the officials a reason to call the game tightly tonight.
If you want to pump up your team, it might be best to do so behind the closed doors of the locker room. Either way, the intensity in tonight's game just got dialed up a few notches. While you enjoy it, make sure to give thanks to Rondo for the boost.