Boston Celtics: 4 Changes Doc Rivers Must Make for Team to Beat Miami Heat
The Celtics found themselves searching for answers against this talented Heat team.
In the series, James was able to dominate the Celtics in the fourth quarter, getting to his spots on the court offensively and wearing down Paul Pierce on the defensive end. It was an uphill battle for the Celtics from the beginning, as closing out games and coming out on top late was something they struggled to do as a unit.
This offseason will be telling one. Which free agents the team picks up and releases and who they select in the 2011 NBA draft, will likely make or break the Celtics chances to content for an NBA championship this season.
Here are the four changes Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers needs to make in Beantown to have his Celtics prepared to beat the Miami Heat in a seven-game series next postseason.
4. Give the Big Three Less Minutes
Allen, Pierce and Garnett all feature tremendous talent in their own regard, yet in the playoffs, it seemed as if in the second half of games the three couldn't put together a strong offense. The team looked tired while the Miami Heat continued to hit the gas pedal and make the Celtics pay.
Allen played a whopping 36.1 minutes per game this season, followed by Pierce with 34.7 and Garnett clocking in just over 31 minutes a contest. Garnett's 31.3 minutes per game is about where all three should be as far as playing time goes.
In turn, this also allows for bench players like Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Delonte West to get more minutes during the course of the season.
Against the Miami Heat next season, the Celtics need these players to make their minutes count.
3. Make Rondo More of a Scoring Threat
Whether it's ESPN or TNT, analysts continue to suggest that when Rondo looks to score the basketball the Celtics are a less efficient basketball team.
You can erase that from your head—dispose of it completely. If Rondo uses his scoring ability to his advantage, the Celtics in fact are a more complete ball club with more firepower offensively.
In the 13 times Rondo scored at least 16 points in a game this season, the Celtics went 11-2. In the first-round sweep against the New York Knicks this postseason, Rondo had at least 15 points in each of the last three games, as the Celtics cruised to victory in two of the three games.
Against the Miami Heat, Rondo had just one game where he scored effectively, putting in 20 points and 12 assists in the Game 2 loss. That game featured Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett all shooting under 50 percent and scoring just 36 points in all.
Rondo's ability to get out in transition and drive the basket are key for the Celtics to get things going offensively, especially if the Big Three come out missing shots.
Rondo needs to spend his time this offseason working with Rivers and the coaching staff to improve his jump-shot and free throws. Those two areas of his game been hurting his ability to be a more effective player in this league, as it allows defenders to play anywhere from five to 10 feet off him.
As the Miami Heat feature a weaker set of players at the point guard position, Rondo must improve in these areas and be more aggressive on offense in order to take advantage of the matchup.
2. Prepare the Team to Finish Games
As you can tell, it was painful to watch his Boston Celtics lose Game 5. Not to mention the way the Celtics lose couldn't have made it any better either.
After holding a lead for most of the fourth quarter, as an 87-81 lead was quickly erased by explosive play from both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The 16-0 run to close out the game was led by LeBron James, who would score 10 of the 16 points.
Whether it was from distance, mid-range or the foul-line, James seemed to get to his spots on the court much to easily in the final minutes of the contest. The No. 1 defense in the league seemed to be several steps to slow in the closing minutes of several games against the Heat.
In the last three games of the series against the Miami Heat, the Celtics held fourth-quarter leads. The Celtics would win Game 3, but drop Games 4 and 5, as an inability to hold leads was arguably as significant a factor as any in failing to beat the Miami Heat this postseason.
1. Sign Thaddeus Young This Summer
One of several strong talents in the free-agent market this offseason is Thaddeus Young, and making a move for him could give the Celtics the physicality they lack to beat the Miami Heat.
Last season, Young started just one game, playing just 26 minutes a contest. In those minutes, Young was as efficient as any big man in the league, scoring 12.7 points and grabbing 5.3 rebounds in those limited minutes.
Speaking to his efficiency and intelligent shot selection, he also averaged 1.1 steals a game and shot the ball 54.1 percent from the field.
He might not be as well-known as a free agent like a David West in New Orleans, Tim Duncan in San Antonio or even Marc Gasol in Memphis, but Young is just as valuable as any of the three for a ballclub like the Celtics.
Not to mention he brings youth to the table along with his talent, which could give the Heat their fair share of problems on the interior next season.