Referees: Ken Mauer, James Capers, Tom Washington
Game Thread l Chat
The Celtics looked slow and old in the second half of game 1. They allowed way too many dunks and open layups. They had their shots blocked 11 times. The Heat beat them to loose balls and rebounds. They were able to hang with the Heat through the first 2 quarters in spite of a slow start, but were outplayed in the second half in just about every area.
The officiating was horrible in game 1 but that wasn't the reason the Celtics lost. The blocked shots were mostly a result of the Celtics driving to the hoop and looking for the foul instead of finishing strong. They have to stop looking for the refs to bail them out and look to score instead. Their offense was also very sluggish and they weren't moving the ball and just didn't seem focused.
Ray Allen is a shell of himself. He has become a liability on defense and his struggles are very clearly seen on the free throw line where he was just 3-7. He was also just 1-7 from the field. We know that he will hit some big shots at some time or other as he did in game 7 vs Philly. Doc has got to decide whether what he can add now is greater than his limitations in the game. Might it be time to rest Ray and play Pietrus or Dooling in his place. Both are better on defense and both can stretch the floor with their offense.
The Celtics have had a day off to rest after being embarrassed in game 1. It was not just the loss, but the showboating and the gloating and the taunting by the Heat. We know that they are a proud team and that they have a lot of heart. They have proved that this season in playing through all the injuries and all that has gone on this season. But the question remains do they have the legs and can they physically match up with a much younger and more athletic Heat team.
Probable Starting Matchups
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Player to Watch
Kevin Garnett was clearly upset by the game 1 loss and he was even more upset by the taunting he saw from LeBron that was allowed by the officials. I expect a very focused and physical Kevin Garnett in this game.
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) out
Player to Watch
Wade was not aggressive in the first half and the Celtics stayed with the Heat. He came out in the 3rd quarter and was more aggressive and looked for his shot and to get to the hoop and the Heat pulled away. The Heat need Wade to be aggressive on both ends to be successful.
Chris Bosh (ab strain) out
Dexter Pittman (suspension) out
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers
As always, Rondo is the key to the Celtics offense, defense, and energy. When Rondo plays well, the Celtics play well. When Rondo is aggressive and in "Triple Double Rondo" mode, he causes matchup problems for the Heat. Rondo must be aggressive and he must run the offense and not allow it to get stagnant.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
Paul Pierce must be more aggressive on both ends in game 2. He has to try to stay with LeBron on defense and perhaps help to prevent a few of the easy layups and dunks he got in game 1. Pierce also must be more aggressive in going to the basket and trying to draw fouls. He had NO free throws in game 1. Of course getting to the line will also depend on the refs calling fouls, which they didn't do in game 1. He also has to be more aggressive on the boards. He is capable of getting more than 2 rebounds if he puts out the effort. The Celtics need more from their Captain.
Brandon Bass vs Shane Battier
Bass has a strength advantage and should also be quick enough to stay with Battier when he goes out beyond the 3 point line. Bass needs to use that strength advantage to get his shot off and he has to hit them. He also must be more aggressive in going after rebounds. He had just 2 rebounds in game 1 and was out rebounded by both point guards. That shouldn't be.
Keys to the Game
Start strong - The Celtics must get off to a better start than they did in game 1. They have to come out strong and be aggressive right from the opening tip. They have to hit their shots and they have to play defense to prevent the easy scoring from the Heat. They can't score 11 points in a quarter and expect to win the game.
Run the Offense - The Celtics must run their sets and move the ball. Rondo dribbling around and then taking a shot as the clock winds down or passing to a teammate for a rushed shot won't do it. The Celtics are at their best when they are moving the ball and making the extra pass and finding the open man. Along with moving the ball, they have to make smart passes and not the sloppy passes that lead to turnovers since turnovers against the Heat usually lead to a LeBron dunk at the other end.
Rebound - The Celtics got out worked on the boards 48-33 in game 1. Much of rebounding is desire and effort. How else can you explain 6'1" Rondo out rebounding everyone on the team except KG? The Celtics have got to put out more effort in going after rebounds and crashing the boards. The team that wins the rebounding battle more often than not wins the game.
Defense - Defense wins championships. That's not just a cute saying, either. The Heat increased their defensive pressure in the second half and it took the Celtics out of their game. The Celtics, however didn't play their best defense in the game, allowing way too many easy shots in the paint and too many open perimeter shots. The Celtics have got to play in your face defense from start to finish.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team if they want to win this game. They have to be the team that wins the 50/50 balls. They have to be the team more aggressive on the boards. They must be the more aggressive team in going to the hoop and finishing at the hoop, not just driving toward the basket and hoping to bet the foul. And they have to be the more aggressive team on defense. If they allow the Heat to outwork them again as they did in game 1, they will probably get the same result.
41.8 fouls called per game
52.5% of fouls called on road team
2.4 technicals called per game
Veteran NBA official Ken Mauer has officiated 1,497 regular season, 119 playoff, and nine Finals games, during his 25-season career. He was also a member of the crew that officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 2005 Denver All-Star game. Mauer’s resume includes six years of CBA officiating experience, nine years of collegiate officiating experience and 12 years of high school officiating experience in Minnesota. Mauer is very quick to call technicals and in one game, once ejected Doc less than 3 minutes into a game, and that was before the new "Respect the Game" rules. In a recent Timberwolves game he might have set the record by calling 5 technicals in a 10 second span. Just what we need, another Tech- happy ref. The Celtics have to be on their best behavior with Mauer calling the game. Mauer was one of the refs charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the controversial Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided, giving the Heat the title. In a Suns/OKC game last season, Mauer told Zabian Dowdell not to be a bitch about the calls. Dowdell asked him if he'd say that off the court and Mauer ejected him from the game for it. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Mauer officiating. One win this season was against the Grizzlies where the refs let them play for the most part and the Celtics shot 21 free throws to 16 for the Grizzlies. The other win was game 5 vs the Sixers in which the Celtics shot 33 free throws to 16 for the Sixers. One loss was to the Sixers where once again they let them play and the Celtics shot 18 free throws to 15 for the Sixers. The other loss was to the Hawks where 18 fouls were called on the Celtics and 8 on the Hawks and the officiating was terrible. The Heat are 5-0 this season and 6-4 in the last 10 games with Mauer. It's tough to know which Mauer will show up - the good one that lets them play or the bad one that tries to control the game and make it about himself. His home W/L record this season is 33-24.
41.6 fouls called per game
51.9% of fouls called on road team
1.6 technicals called per game
The son of former NBA official James Capers Sr., who was a ref for 22 years, James Capers has officiated 969 regular season games and 44 playoff games during his 16-season NBA career. In addition to his NBA experience, Capers has six years of CBA officiating experience, including three CBA Finals and two CBA All-Star Games. Capers was the recipient of the 1998 Monarch Award as Chicago Sportsman of the Year for his career and community achievements. Capers also conducts NBA Read to Achieve programs at two Chicago Public schools. He has also volunteered to train referees for the Philippines basketball association. I've seen several posts from Lakers fans who swear he hates the Lakers. At least he has that in his favor. The Celtics are 4-1 with Capers this season. In a 100-64 win over the Raptors, the Celtics shot 12 free throws to 18 for the Raptors. The second game was against the Warriors where the Celtics shot 21 free throws to 19 for the Warriors. The 3rd win was vs Orlando in which the Celtics shot 27 free throws to 30 for the Magic. The 4th win was game 1 of this series where the Celtics shot 19 free throws to 20 for the Sixers. All 4 games were well officiated. The loss was game 6 vs the Sixers where the Celtics shot 23 free throws to 28 for the Sixers. The Celtics are 8-2 over their last 10 games with Capers. The Heat are 5-0 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 games. His home W/L record this season is 30-22.
44.8 fouls called per game
49.6% of fouls called on road team
0.0 technicals called per game
Over his 20-season NBA officiating career, Tom Washington has officiated 1,196+ regular season games, 103 playoff games and two Finals games. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1995 Schick Rookie Game, the 1996 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 2004 NBA All-Star Game. In addition to his 20 seasons with the NBA, Washington has two years of CBA officiating experience. He has one year collegiate officiating experience and five years of high school officiating experience in his hometown of Philadelphia. The Celtics are 1-3 this season with Washington on the court. One loss was the Pacer game where the Celtics were called for 24 fouls compared to 18 for the Pacers. Another loss was to the Pistons where Detroit shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics, Rondo was ejected, and Tommy Heinsohn called it the worst officiated game all season (are you cringing yet?). The final loss was game 5 vs Atlanta where they let them play and the Celtics shot 15 free throws to 14 for the Hawks. The win was the 87-56 Orlando beat down in which the Celtics took 19 free throws to 30 for the Magic. They are 7-3 over their last 10 games with Washington. The Heat are 3-1 this season and 9-1 over their last 10 games with Washington on the court. His home W/L record this season is 39-20.
Physical Ability and Officiating
The Celtics have heart and they have pride, but do they have enough left in the tank to play harder than the Heat. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are definitely hurting and it may be asking too much of them to play at 100% when they just have 60% or less of their health.
The officiating in game 1 was absolutely horrible. Will the officials call it fair or will they once again hit the Celtics with phantom fouls and technicals will allowing the Heat free reign? The Celtics already have an uphill battle overcoming age and injuries without also having to overcome one sided officiating as well.