Boston Celtics (10-7, 2-2) at Miami Heat (10-5,2-2)
Playoff Game #18 – Road Game #9
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
8:30 pm ET
TV: ESPN, TSN
Radio: WEEI, ESPN Radio
American Airlines Arena
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Ron Garretson, Derrick Stafford
Game Thread l Chat
As the series shifts back to Miami, the buzz is all about the possible return of Chris Bosh. His return could give the Heat a boost and make it harder for KG or it could disrupt their chemistry since he has been out for 9 games as they try to re-insert Bosh into their lineup. It will definitely give them a boost emotionally and the Celtics have to weather that. All signs point to his playing but the Heat are being coy and won't confirm until game time. I sure wish we could pull Avery Bradley off the shelf but alas, it's not to be.
With KG, Ray, Pierce and Rondo, the Celtics are 8-0 in game 5's when the series is tied 2-2. While this may point to the heart and grit of this group, as with everything else in a series, each game is different and it will be up to the players to bring it on the court in order to get the win. Another stat that could come into play is that the Heat have won 52% of their games without Bosh but that jumps to 76% with Bosh. But again, Bosh has missed 9 games and will be rusty and if so, hopefully won't have a huge effect on the game.
The spotlight has been on the officiating in this game. The officiating in games 1 and 2 was terrible. The non-calls on Rondo and Wade more than likely cost the Celtics game 2. The officiating was fairly even in games 3 and 4 but still not without controversy as both Pierce and LeBron fouled out, leading to complaints and whining from LeBron after the game. Then, there was Rondo's half time bit about the Heat spending too much time complaining to he refs during the game. A big factor in this game will be how it's called and how the players respond to how it's called. Whether it's because of one sided calls or lack of aggression on the Celtics part, they must find a way to even the free throw disparity in Miami. In games 1 and 2 in Miami, the Heat were +20 in free throw attempts. In Boston, the Celtics were just +2 in free throw attempts. The Celtics have to be more aggressive and try to force the refs to make the calls in their favor.
The series is now the best of 3 and the Celtics must win one game in Miami while the Heat simply have to win at home. Winning in Miami is no easy task. The Heat are 28-5 at home this season. But the Celtics account for one of those 5 losses so they know they can win there. It will take an all out effort to do so under these circumstances, however. The Celtics have the momentum after winning the two in Boston and hopefully can carry that over to this game. They need to come out strong in this one and play hard the entire game in order to pull off a win in this game.
Probable Starting Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) out
Chris Bosh (ab strain) game time decision
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, he causes matchup problems for the Heat. Rondo must be aggressive and he must run the offense and not allow it to get stagnant. Chalmers played very well at home and so the Celtics must also cover him as well.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
Both Pierce and James fouled out in game 4. For Pierce it was the 3rd time in 5 games that he was unable to finish out a game. It was the first time that James has fouled out since 2008 and he whined and complained about it afterwards saying that he doesn't foul out and that he didn't deserve the 6th foul. Will this affect the way these two players are treated by the refs in this game? Regardless, the Celtics need Pierce to attack the basket and be aggressive and hopefully he will get a break from the refs in spite of being on the road.
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh (or whoever)
With Chris Bosh rumored to be back for this game things get a bit more difficult for KG. In spite of the fact that Bosh will be rusty and will have to work his way back into shape, he will give them more than Turiaf and Anthony have. KG will hopefully continue his otherworldly play and even though the Heat may get a boost from the return of Bosh, he may also disrupt the flow as they work to reincorporate him into the lineup.
Keys to the Game
Start strong - The Celtics must 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. The Heat always make a run at some time in the game and so the Celtics have to build a cushion in order to withstand that run. Against the Heat, the Celtics can't afford to dig a hole because it is very difficult to dig out of it.
Run the Offense - The Celtics must run their sets and move the ball. 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 or Wade dunk at the other end. The Celtics have been starting out strong but letting up in the second half. They must keep their ball movement and offense moving for the whole game.
Rebound - The Celtics got out worked on the boards 48-33 in game 1. The rebounding was even in game 2 and the Celtics have outrebounded the Heat in both of their wins. When the Celtics crash the boards and win the rebounding battle they usually win the game. Pietrus' effort to grab the offensive rebounds in OT may have saved that win. The Celtics have got to put out effort in going after rebounds and crashing the boards. The team that wins the rebounding battle more often than not wins the war.
Defense - Defense wins championships. That's not just a cute saying, either. The Celtics have got to play in your face defense from start to finish if they want to win this game. Defense becomes even more important on the road as role players tend to shoot better at home and so the Celtics will need to close out the 3 point shooters as well as shut down the paint.
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 get the foul because on the road, they probably won't get the calls. And they have to be the more aggressive team on defense. They simply can't allow the Heat to outwork them.
Bench Play - The Celtics have gotten a boost from their bench in games 3 and 4 after they were mostly invisible in games 1 and 2. The Celtics have veterans like Pietrus, Dooling and Quisy coming off the bench who should be able to play well on the road. The Celtics need to get production from them on both ends of the court so that the starters can get rest and not give up a lead or dig a hole while they are out.
11 playoff games as lead official
Home team win % of 81.8%
44.3 fouls called per game
51.9% of the fouls are called on the road team
1.3 technicals called per game
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. In game 2 of the WCF, McCutchen flipped out on someone and yelled "I'm running this game not you!" as Serge Ibaka went to the line for free throws. Other than that, there's not a lot of controversy about McCutchen. The Celtics are 5-1 this season and 7-3 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 but the game was called fairly for both teams. The 3rd win was the Celtics subs vs the Heat's subs and they let them play with the Celtics taking 16 free throws to 7 for the Heat. Another win was game 3 vs Atlanta where they once again let them play and the Celtics took 25 free throws to 15 for the Hawks. The final win was game 7 vs Philadelphia where the Celtics shot 22 free throws to 20 for Philly and they called the game pretty well. The loss was to the Bulls where the Bulls shot 26 free throws to 18 for the Celtics but the game was called fairly. The Heat are 5-3 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 with McCutchen. He is a homer ref with a 45-19 home W/L record this season.
8 playoff games as crew official
Home team win % of 87.5%
42.1 fouls called per game
54.6% of the fouls are called on the road team
1.1 technicals called per game
Garretson, the son of former NBA official Darell Garretson (1967-94), has officiated 1,605 regular season and 182 playoff games, including 11 NBA Finals games, over his 24 seasons in the NBA. In addition, Garretson has two years of CBA officiating experience and two years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. Garretson earned his Associate of Arts degree from Golden West Junior College. He played football and basketball at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif. and was recognized for his athletic achievements in 2000 when he was inducted into Servite High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Garretson was one of the refs that Mark Cuban was fined $75,000 for criticizing. Garretson called game 5 of last year's MIA/BOS series where the Celtics shot just 20 free throws to 38 for the Heat and the game was called pretty much one sided. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Garretson. One loss this season was to the Thunder and the Celtics shot 16 free throws to 19 for the Thunder. The game was called evenly and they let them play. The second loss was game 6 vs Philly where the Celtics shot 23 free throws to 28 for the Sixers and the officiating wasn't bad. The win was the OT win over the Hawks in round 1 where the Celtics shot 25 free throws to 15 for the Hawks and the officiating was good. The Heat are 2-2 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Garretson. He's pretty much a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 42-19.
1 playoff games as crew official
Home team win % of 100%
35 fouls called per game
54.3% of the fouls are called on the road team
0.0 technicals called per game
Over his 23 NBA seasons, Derrick Stafford has worked 1,402 regular season, 99 playoff, and five Finals games. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1997 McDonald’s Championship in Paris, the Legends All-Star Game in Orlando and the 2002 NBA All-Star Game. The 23-year NBA officiating veteran has also served twice on the Executive Board of the National Basketball Referee Association. Stafford has six years of CBA officiating experience, and he officiated Pro-Am basketball for six years. He also has seven years of collegiate officiating and 10 years of high school officiating experience in Georgia. Stafford is known to be quick to call technical fouls. Pat Riley and Stafford have a bit of bad blood between them. Back in 2003 when Riley was coaching, he accused Stafford of shouting "It's not about you." at Riley when Riley complained excessively about the calls. Stafford was suspended for 2 games as a result. Stafford was also fined as a result of a complaint that Lawrence Frank made when he was coach of the Nets. I found 4 other articles detailing complaints about Stafford for his actions or comments. It seems that Mr Stafford is a hot head who loves to lash out at players and coaches who question him. The Celtics are 3-2 this season and 6-4 over the last 10 games with Stafford on the court. Their regular season win was against Toronto and the Celtics shot 32 free throws to 20 for the Raptors. One loss was to the Lakers where the officiating was terrible and the Celtics shot just 5 (yes, that's FIVE) free throws to 20 for the Lakers. And you thought the 9 free throws against the Sixers in game 2 was bad. The second loss was to the Raptors where Toronto shot 31 free throws to 19 for the Celtics. He also officiated game 6 vs the Hawks where the Celtics shot 24 free throws to 10 for the Hawks. The final game was the game 3 win vs Philly where the Celtics shot 28 free throws to 22 for the Sixers. The Heat are 3-2 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Stafford. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 42-19.
Focus and Officiating
The Celtics must come out focused on playing their game and not allow officiating or the Heat thuggery to derail them. If they can stay focused on both ends of the court and play aggressive basketball, they can get the win regardless of the officiating or the venue.
The officiating in game 1 and 2 was terrible. The officiating in games 3 and 4 was mostly even. The Celtics already have an uphill battle overcoming age and injuries without also having to overcome one sided officiating as well. Hopefully there has been enough of a spotlight on the officiating in this series that they will call it fair in this game as well. On the plus side, when I read the list of referees, none of the names made me cringe but with NBA officials, that's not always a guarantee of a fairly called game, especially since all 3 are big time homer refs.