Miami Heat (46-18) at Boston Celtics (37-27)
Tuesday, April 24
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #65, Home Game #32
TV: TNT, SunSPM, The Score
Radio: WEEI, WAXY
Referees: Monty McCutchen, John Goble, Courtney Kirkland
This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams in the regular season. The Celtics lead the series 2-1, winning once in Boston and once in Miami. The loss was in the Celtics second game of the season when Pierce was still out with the foot injury.
. Word out of Miami is that the Heat will be resting their 3 start tonight. They went through a full practice instead of a shoot around this morning and all three participated but Spoelstra is expected to rest them in this game. .All Heat players will be a game time decision so their lineup is a huge guess and may or may not be completely different from what I have posted. Doc has said that Paul Pierce and KG will probably play but not a lot of minutes. Ray and Pietrus are both out once again as is Greg Stiemsma. .
After the embarrassing losses that Miami received from the Celtics in their last 2 meetings I would think that they really want to win this one but as with most teams this time of the season, they are putting health and rest (and it would appear practice also) before getting meaningless wins. Besides, they probably know the Celtics would beat them again and they'd rather blame the loss on not playing their stars than having to admit their stars lost another one.
The Heat are in the second spot but still have hopes of moving up, albeit very slim hopes. However, the Bulls number is 1 and so a Heat loss in this game or a win by the Bulls would eliminate them. The Celtics are in 4th and their matchup with the Hawks is set, however, home court is still up for grabs. If the Celtics win both their games and the Hawks lose to either the Clippers or Mavs, the Celtics could get home court.
This game does have some meaning for both teams, but Doc has said that rest and health comes first and obviously the Heat feel the same way. It's hard to tell who will play or how much and because of that, it's hard to tell which team will come out on top. But one thing is for sure, I'd take our bench, even as depleted as it is over theirs any day.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce vs Shane Battier
Ray Allen (ankle) out
Greg Stiemsma (feet,thumb) out
Mickael Pietrus (knee) out
Rajon Rondo (back) game time decision
Dwyane Wade (finger) game time decision
Ronny Turiaf (hamstring) game time decision
Chris Bosh (rest) game time decision
LeBron James (rest) game time decision
Mario Chalmers (flu) game time decision
Avery Bradley vs Mario Chalmers
Chalmers is one of their weak links in their starting lineup but he can get hot from the perimeter. Avery will need to set the pace for the Celtics and on the other end he needs to use his defense to disrupt the Heat's offense.
The Celtics reserves played very admirably against the Hawks and almost won that game. We should see plenty more of the bench in this game as even if Pierce and Garnett play, I don't see them playing big minutes.
Keys to the Game
No Injuries - First and foremost, the Celtics all need to stay healthy and not get any new injuries.
Rebound - The Celtics have to limit the Heat's second chance baskets and fast breaks by crashing the boards. The amount of effort put into winning the rebound battle often follows through to the other areas of the game. With a lack of size, the Celtics need to rebound as a team with everyone going after the rebounds. The Celtics are last in the league with 38.7 rpg while the Heat comein at 18th with 41.7 rpg.
Defense - Both teams are good defensive teams. The Celtics are 3rd in the league holding teams to 89.9 points while the Heat are 4th, giving up 92.6 points per game. The Celtics keep opponents to 42.1% (1st) while the Heat are 5th, keeping teams at 43.2%. The Heat are 6th in the league in scoring at 99.4 ppg and shoot 47% while the Celtics are 26th scoring 91.6 ppg on 46%. The Celtics won't win a shoot out so they have to turn up their defense if they want to get this win.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They can't settle for jumpers but have to drive to the hoop and either kick it to an open teammate, draw the foul or get the score. They also have to be the more aggressive team on defense, grabbing rebounds and going after loose balls. They have to play like they want it more.
Bench Play - The Celtics bench has been depleted by injuries. They played very well against the Hawks and the Celtics will need another strong effort from them in this one as well.
McCutchen has officiated 1,085 regular season, 80 playoff, and four Finals games. He worked the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas and was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 and 1997 Mexico Challenges, as well as the 1998 Schick Rookie Game. Prior to joining the NBA, McCutchen spent four seasons in the CBA, where he worked the All Star game his second year and the playoffs all four years. He also officiated the CBA Finals the last three years he was with the league. McCutchen missed the 1998-99 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He is a former elementary and middle school teacher and is fondly remembered by his students as a really nice guy. In searching for information on him, I found a Cavs' blog that blamed a loss to the Celtics on the officiating of Monty McCutchen. That was the game where Mike Brown was ejected and the Cavs made a furious comeback but fell short. Other than that, there's not a lot of controversy about McCutchen. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with McCutchen on the court. One win this season was against the Knicks where they let them play and the Celtics shot 24 free throws to 21 for the Knicks. The second win was against the Bobcats where it was just the opposite. They called ticky tack fouls on both sides and let nothing go as evidenced by the 45 free throws taken by the Celtics and 35 by the Bobcats. The loss was to the Bulls where the Bulls shot 26 free throws to 18 for the Celtics. The Heat are 4-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 with McCutchen. His home W/L record this season is 34-17.
Goble enters his fourth season having officiated 259 regular season games and seven playoff games. He also officiated the 2010 NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophomore game. Prior to working in the NBA, Goble officiated 104 games over four seasons in the NBA Development League and was selected to officiate the 2007 D-League Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences. Seems odd that Goble already has worked the playoffs with just 3 years of experience and others have been in the league 12 years or more and haven't cracked the playoff rotation yet. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 games that Goble has officiated. The officiating was fairly even in all 3 games this season. The Heat are 1-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Goble. His home W/L record this season is 26-27.
Over the past 11 seasons, Courtney Kirkland has officiated 675 regular season games and 10 playoff games. He also officiated two seasons in the WNBA, including the 2000 WNBA Championship and the 1999 Conference Finals. Prior to joining the NBA, Kirkland also worked three seasons in the CBA where he officiated the 1999 and 2000 CBA Finals as well as the 2000 CBA All-Star Game. He was a high school official for four years. Kirkland was a member of the Northwestern High School basketball team that made it to the state semifinals in 1991 and 1992. Kirkland received the school’s Academic award, and led the team in assists, and free throw and three point
shooting percentage. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 10-0 in their last 10 games that Kirkland officiated. One win this season was against Toronto in which the Celtics took 12 free throws to 18 for Toronto, but the game was well officiated over all. The other win was vs Milwaukee in which the Celtics took 26 free throws to 16 for the Bucks. The Heat are also 2-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Kirkland. His home W/L record is 30-18.
It's hard to preview a game in which you have no idea who will be playing or how much and who will be sitting. Both teams will try to win, but not at the expense of health going into the playoffs. This one's a toss up.