Celtics vs. Heat: 3 Things C's Must Do to Grab Series Lead
What a wild weekend it was.
Down 0-2 with not much more than a puncher’s chance, the Boston Celtics tied the Eastern Conference Finals even at two following Game 3 and 4 victories.
With the series shifting back to South Beach, the Miami Heat are starting to feel the burners firing up, letting a two-game lead—and maybe the Finals—slip through their fingers.
Still, it’s hard enough to beat Miami at any venue, let alone on their home floor. Here are three “must-do’s” for Boston as they look to steal Game 5 tonight…
No. 1: Rebound, Rebound, And, Oh Yea…Rebound.
Boston has been, by all accounts over the last two seasons, a marginal rebounding team—at best.
The Celtics ranked dead last in the NBA during the regular season in total rebounds (that’s 30th for you folks counting at home), finishing 21th in rebounds allowed.
However, Boston’s Mickael Pietrus—who nearly suffered a severe head injury during a Mar. 24 contest against the Philadelphia 76ers—made two of the biggest plays of the year (both for offensive rebounds) late in the fourth quarter of the Celtic’s Game 4 win Sunday.
If Boston wishes to steal a Game 5 victory, they will have to grab every board possible. While it’s not surprising to see that the Celtics and Heat rank first and second in rebounding these playoffs (considering this stage of the postseason), Miami has more offensive rebounds (147-to-125), but failed to get the two that mattered the most.
But, hey, that’s these 2012 NBA Playoffs have been all about: the unpredictable.
No. 2: Rondo’s Influence at an All-Time High
As to the question of whether Rondo is capable of taking the ball and scoring in crunch time, there is none—his 44 points in Miami’s Game 2 overtime victory once again validated his enormous value.
The key to what makes Rondo so special offensively—beyond his natural ability on the fast break—is his vision in the half-court set. If Boston can draw double teams, there’s no telling how many assists Rondo can dish out. He’s averaging 11.9 assists per game during these playoffs, including 10.5 per game in four Conference Finals games.
However, the notion leans completely on the Heat’s willingness to commit to pinning Rondo with traps and such. It would more than likely occur in spurts, rather than consistently all game long.
Look for the Celtics to try and isolate Rondo offensively and force Miami into double-teams, allowing lanes to open up for others to score.
If that happens, Boston has a chance to steal a win in South Beach.
No. 3: Supporting Cast Putting Up “A-List” Performances
As the Celtic’s roster continues to battle countless injuries these playoffs—and all season long—the saviors these recent games don’t come disguised as the captain, the seven-footer or the flashy point guard.
It’s been Pietrus, Marquis Daniels and Keyon Dooling…yea, I know...but hey, like I said…it’s the playoffs.
The three have combined for 29 points and 13 boards in the last two games, providing valuable offense while Rondo, Garnett and Pierce get a breather. If Boston wins, the bench will have a say in the matter.
Look for those three to provide valuable minutes off the bench as the Celtics look to steal a game on the road.