The Celtics take on the Heat tonight in what can only be described as a must win. They’re down 2-0 in their series and haven’t looked at all like the team that beat the Heat three times earlier this season and looked like the team to beat. Right now not so much. Right now analysts are looking for moral victories in their last two losses. The common theme has been that the games are close even though the Celtics haven’t been playing their best.
To an extent the Heat look unstoppable right now. The Three Moheatos look like they’ve finally figured things out, especially James and Wade. At one point this marriage never looked like it was going to work, now it looks like a match made in heaven. But can the Celtics stop them? Can they figure out a way to slow them down at all?
Yes… Yes they can.
The Heat have looked unstoppable at home so far in the playoffs, but on the road in Philly they struggled and even lost a game. Boston is a lot more viscous and blood thirsty than the fans in Philly. That’s saying something. Philly fans threw snowballs and batteries at Santa Claus for crying out loud. But Boston attacks on a more psychological level. That’s the difference and quite frankly there’s a 97% chance that 2/3 of the Three Moheatos don’t have the mental or testicular fortitude to handle it. Yes, that 2/3 would be Bosh and James. Wade’s won a title. I know he has the balls to go into Boston and dominate. Regardless, that’s how Boston will get back into this thing.
I fully expect the Celtics to come out tonight at the Garden and put on a show. They’re backs are in a corner and they know they need to win. As former champions, they know what’s at stake with these next two games and their fans do to. They may be old, but they’re not stupid. There’s too much pride on this current Celtics team to let this Heat team come into their gym and dominate. In a way, they have the fate of the basketball world weighing on their shoulders. They know this. Don’t underestimate them.
The key for the Celtics will be getting Rajon Rondo out on the run early and often. The best possible way to do this is to force the Heat into contested, long range, jump shots that will result in long rebounds. Rondo needs to snag these rebounds and take off down the court. He needs to force the issue and get the break going. Punching the Heat in the face early is the best possible thing that can happen. When things do slow down it’ll be up to Rondo to avoid turnovers and set up everyone else for easy shots. The Celtics are older, the easier they can get points the better off they’ll be and the more effort they can exert on defense. It’s the same basic strategy they used against the Cavs last year.
Supposedly, they’ll also be getting Shaq back tonight. It’s doubtful he can give them any type of real help from an offensive standpoint, but what he can provide them is size up front and another body to throw into the mix to cause issues for the Heat. Bosh does not respond well to Shaq’s mind games. If they can get a solid 20 minutes out of the Big Leprechaun it’s a win. It also give Jermaine O’Neal a chance to get some solid rest. He’s been forced to play big minutes for Boston. Allowing him to get prolonged periods of rest can keep his minutes productive and keep him out of foul trouble.
But like I said, the key for the Celtics is the crowd. They need to bring it like they’ve never brought it before. Boston fans are smart, though. They don’t need me to tell them what they need to do. They’re more than aware. That’s why I fully expect the environment in Boston to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before for playoff basketball. So with that, what else is there left to say except…
Let’s go Celtics!