The Celtics are going to have to make some adjustments for this series. Here are some that I would like to see:
- Garnett has to play center. The Celtics started this game with Garnett defending perimeter players like Shane Battier and Mike Miller, then in the second half they kept switching such that Garnett was one-on-one with LeBron and Wade. THIS IS NOT THE STRENGTH OF THIS TEAM'S DEFENSE. Garnett's strength as a defender is no longer to defend perimeter players...his strength is to HELP on perimeter players. Ray Allen CAN NOT guard Wade 1-on-1. Paul Pierce does his best on LeBron, but he needs assistance as well. Let Garnett guard the Joel Anthonys and Rony Turiafs of this series, so that he can help lock down the paint against the two juggernaut wings of the opponents. This is the absolute KEY to this series, because like always, the Celtics win with their defense. And having Garnett chase around perimeter guys 1-on-1 while Bass defends the rim will NOT work.
- Rondo and Pierce have to adjust their penetration game. Prior to game 1 I pointed out that the Heat were either a donut team OR that their super-athletic wings might provide the shot-blocking. Clearly, in game 1, the latter was true. LeBron and Wade are flying around the paint, with Battier and Anthony helping out as well. Rondo and Pierce CANNOT just dive to the rim and either finish or draw the foul as they are used to. As such, they have to adjust. We need more on-ball pick action, with associated off-ball motion to lead to controlled drives where either LeBron/Wade are picked off and/or the penetration can lead to easy shots for teammates if the shot-blockers are swarming. Either way, an adjustment must be made because those Rondo/Pierce dives to the rim that were leading to either blocked shots or horribly missed wild layup attempts were almost as bad as turnovers for generating easy buckets and momentum the other way.
- More Steamer and less Bass. Bass is going to have to really work to make himself effective this series, because the Heat are built to limit his strengths and hurt his weaknesses. Bass makes his money by knocking down the open mid-range jumper when bigger opponents don't come out to guard him. The problem is, the Heat play smaller guys that are perfectly able to come outside to run him off of that open jumper. And Bass doesn't have the post-game to punish this. And on defense, as I pointed out above, Bass can't be the one playing the help anchor role. He either has to come out and guard a perimeter guy (not his strength), or he needs to clear out for a shot-blocker. Which brings up the Steamer. IF Garnett is going to be the big man that guards a perimeter player, Stiemsma MUST be the center playing behind him to clog the paint. Steamer also is, like Garnett, a mismatch in the Celtics' favor on offense. He can also hit the jumper, but he is big enough that if he dives to the rim the Heat can't easily block his shot.
The Celtics actually weren't that far away today. Even with the issues I laid out above, with better execution they could have made it more competitive. But moving forward, they have to make some of these adjustments if they want to a) prevent the Heat role players from heating up, b) prevent so many easy shots at the rim, and c) get their offense to produce a few easy shots of their own.
Let's GO, Celtics.