NBA Playoffs 2011: Keys to Success for the Boston Celtics Against the Miami Heat
Yes, of course. So now that we are here, what are the Celtics' keys to taking out the heat in Round 2?
They’ll need to keep playing like they have been, of course, while working out the kinks that held them back in Round 1. I’m looking at you, poor passing.
If the Celtics can continue to do what they did against the New York Knicks, while making the necessary adjustments against the Heat, they can advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Forget About the Past
First things first—forget about the past. The Celtics may have gone 3-1 versus the Heat in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean squat in the playoffs.
The Heat breezed past the 76ers in the first round and are playing well, and don’t forget they took out a healthy Celtics team on April 10th.
From fans to players and coaches, everyone needs to focus on the task at hand and not rely on what’s already happened in the past.
Stop LeBron James
The Celtics are going to have to pick their poison, and stopping LeBron is the way to go in this series.
James has outpaced Dwyane Wade, who has still been efficient, but focusing on the hot man may lead to a higher percentage of shutdown opportunities.
Wade has shot only 44 percent in the playoffs thus far, so the probability lies with him.
Don’t Make Any New Superstars
The Heat already have Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James—they don’t need any more superstars. The Celtics must not make superstars out of any of the Heat’s role players.
Joel Anthony pulled down 10 rebounds (four offensive) in 35 minutes the last time the two teams met. The Celtics cannot afford to let Anthony maintain anything close to that on a consistent basis.
Anthony is getting his fair share of playoff minutes, fourth-highest on the team at 31.0 minutes per game, but didn’t put up anything special in terms of numbers. The Celtics must make sure his three PPG and five RPG hold steady.
After Joel Anthony, the three-point shooting of Mario Chalmers and James Jones needs to be kept in mind, but as all Celtics fans know, the team needs to be focused on interior defense.
Utilize the Bench
Chances are this series will not be a sweep for Boston. In the previous four-game series against the Knicks, the Celtics could afford to use a seven-man rotation, but not anymore.
There is a serious concern about how the team will hold up in a seven-game series. For argument’s sake, let’s say it does go seven games.
Can Jermaine O’Neal hold up? He looks good so far, but as we know it’s a risk every time he takes to the court.
What happens if Rajon Rondo takes a hard foul? Delonte West is only playing 13 MPG, and it may be difficult for him to step up. Don’t forget about Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green.
If the Celtics can dip into the bench at any point in the first couple of games, it will help preserve the team for a drawn-out series.
The one saving grace is that there is a four-day break in the series between Games 2 and 3.
The Celtics Need to Win the Battle of the Intangibles
These two teams are equally matched. The Celtics aren’t going to blow away the Heat and vice versa. Intangibles could very well play a large role in this series.
Glen Davis needs to keep taking his charges. Nenad Krstic may not play anymore, but he’s pretty decent at taking a charge himself when he does play. Any way to generate foul trouble or take points off the board will be a huge benefit.
The Celtics have the luxury of having just played a series against a team that wasn’t very balanced. The Heat have three guys, and that’s really all you have to worry about. The Celtics won’t have to make too many adjustments on D.
Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, the Celtics have to make smart passes. Too many times against the Knicks, they made an extra pass or a poor one that led to blown possession. The Celtics can ill afford to make those mistakes anymore.