By all accounts, the Celtics have the Miami Heat right where they want them. They've demoralized the Heat and stand over them with a 2-0 lead. The Heat have had no answers for the Celtics since the midpoint of the 3rd quarter of game 1. Furthermore, the Heat can't even lean too heavily on a home court boost.
The Celtics tied with the Cavs for the 2nd best road record in the league (behind the Mavs) at 26 - 15. In fact, their road record was better than their home record (24 - 17). Some of that is a fluke and much of that success happened in the first half of the season, but the point seems clear. The Celtics, despite playing with a target on their backs and playing the role of villain much of the time, are a pretty good road basketball team.
In that respect, perhaps they can do better than their recent first round performances. Two years ago they lost every game in Atlanta (despite winning rather convincingly in the home games). Last year they managed just one win in Chicago. Winning on the road is tough. Just look at the Cleveland Cavs that just lost their first road game in Chicago last night. Just look at what the Thunder did to the defending champs last night.
Despite being up 2-0, I think this game is very important to the Celtics. Not a "must win" (perhaps the most overused phrase in sports around playoff time) but an important game for momentum purposes. Give the Heat a win with their home crowd behind them and they might just gain enough confidence to take another win. Then they're the ones with the momentum headed back to Boston and the script is flipped. Does anyone have enough confidence in this team's mental fortitude after watching them limp home with a .500 record since Christmas?
Steve Bulpett actually takes it one step further. It is important to close out this series in quick fashion because these guys are going to need all the strength they can get for Cleveland.
With a cast of thirty-somethings, the Celtics don't want to stay out in the Heat too long. They need to save as much as they can for what comes next.
Can't argue with that. I'm rooting for a quick end to this series and I'd like nothing more than for the Bulls to recreate last year's first round as much as possible for the Cavs (with as many double and triple overtimes as possible).
The Celtics have been strong in the first couple games and they've been strong on the road this year. Now they have to maintain focus and go in for the kill. Or said more eloquently by Kendrick Perkins:
"I just remember at halftime, guys were like, ‘We smell blood,' '' Kendrick Perkins said. "Guys were just focused. So going into Game 3, you hope we still smell blood.''
Get 'em sharks.