The Heat and Celtics meet for the third of four match-ups this season with a couple of win streaks on the line.
Miami Heat (51-14) at Boston Celtics (36-29)
Monday, March 18, 2013
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #66, Home Game #34
TV: ESPN, CSNNE, NABC, SunSpM
Radio: WEEI, WAXY
Referees: Scott Foster, Matt Boland, David Guthrie
Game Thread l Chat
Boston Celtics Tickets
The Heat and Celtics meet for the third of four match-ups this season. The teams have split their two meetings so far this season, with both teams winning on their home court. Since that last loss to Boston on January 27, the Heat have run off 22 straight wins and the Celtics have won 11 in a row at home. That 1/27 win over the Heat was also the game that they learned they would be without Rondo for the rest of the season. The Heat are 15-32 all time in games played in Boston.
This game is all about streaks. The last time these two teams met in Boston, the Celtics ended their 6 game losing streak and extended their home win streak against the Heat to 10. 5 years ago on March 18th, 2008, the Celtics ended Houston's 22 game win streak. Five years later, the Heat come into Boston with a 22 game win streak and the Celtics are hoping that they can repeat history and end this 22 game win streak as well. The Celtics have won 11 games in a row at home and are looking to continue that streak as well.
Kevin Garnett is a game time decision for this game. He was originally considered doubtful and then questionable and now is a game time decision. I join those who feel that if he's not 100% he should sit out. One game isn't worth aggravating the injury. If he can't go or is limited, it gets a lot tougher for the Celtics. But the Celtics have overcome a lot of adversity and a complete team effort would still give them a chance to win. I'm being positive and putting KG into the starting lineup, hoping he'll be good to go. If KG can't play, I expect the Celtics to start the same lineup they used the last time with Jeff Green starting at the 4 and Brandon Bass sliding over to the 5. Incidentally, they are 2-0 with that lineup, although those wins were over the woeful Suns and Bobcats.
The Heat are playing in back to back games and had to travel after their afternoon game in Toronto. For once, the Celtics have had the day off before the big matchup. The Celtics need to come out focused and play as a team from the start to the final buzzer, whether KG plays or not. .
Probable Starting Matchups
Brandon Bass vs Udonis Haslem
Rajon Rondo (knee) out
Jared Sullinger (back) out
Kevin Garnett (adductor) questionable
Avery Bradley/Courtney Lee vs Mario Chalmers/Dwyane Wade
The Celtics "Pit Bull" backcourt will need to contain the Heat's backcourt players. I expect Bradley and Lee to tag team against Chalmers and Wade to keep Miami from getting into their offense and disrupting Wade especially from getting hot on offense.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
This is always a tough matchup for any team. Expect Jeff Green to get the call to cover LeBron much of the time in this game. Green has been effective in the past guarding him and so should take some of the pressure off of Pierce by doing so. Pierce should be well-rested, having played less than 24 minutes in each of the past two games after being given a night off Tuesday against the Bobcats. He had a triple-double in the last meeting with Miami and scored 23 points in the first one. LeBron should be tired but then again, for whatever reason, he doesn't seem to react like normal human beings.
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh
I know that KG is considered 50-50 for this game but I'm being positive in hoping he will be good to go. KG can defend Bosh very well, but if KG doesn't play the Celtics will struggle with this matchup because Bass won't be near as effective covering him.
Keys to the Game
Both teams pride themselves on their defense and defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics are 7th in points allowed (95.6) while the Heat are 8th (95.8). The Celtics are 4th in FG% allowed (43.7%) and the Heat are 9th (44.1%). The Celtics are 2nd in defending the 3 point line (33.4%) while the Heat are 12th (35.2%) If the Celtics want to win this game, they will have to play lock down team defense for 48 minutes.
The Heat are the only team in the league that rebound worse than the Celtics. The Celtics are 29th with 40.0 RPG while the Heat are 30th at 38.5 RPG. The Celtics need to crash the boards and prevent the Heat from getting second chance baskets and tip ins. They can also limit Miami's fast breaks and get some fast break opportunities of their own by crashing the boards as well. They must rebound as a team with everyone going to the basket to box out or rebound.
When the Celtics are aggressive they are tough to beat. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers, especially if they aren't falling. The starters need to come out and play aggressively from the beginning and the second unit needs to come in and pick up where they leave off. They have to attack the basket and be aggressive on defense especially.
The Celtics need their second unit to play well. The Heat are 21-1 when their bench outscores their opponents' bench. The Celtics reserves need to be aggressive and play with energy. They also have to defend to keep the Heat's reserves from getting an advantage.
Officiating and KG
We know that the Heat get special treatment from the refs. A player as physical as LeBron can't go weeks without getting called for a foul without the refs letting him get away with a lot. In their last 3 games, they have had huge free throw discrepancies - Heat 29/Raptors 12, Heat 27/Sixers 12, Heat 30/Hawks 14. It appears that the Heat are getting some help keeping their streak alive. We can only hope that the Celtics can get a fair shot from them in this one or that they can play well enough to overcome it. .
Also, KG is a game time decision to play in this game and it becomes much tougher to win if KG can't play or is limited.
A veteran official of 18 NBA seasons, Scott Foster has worked 1,124 regular season and 94 playoff games, including eight Finals games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Europe Tour in Berlin, Germany and Seville, Spain. In addition to his NBA experience, Foster has two years of CBA officiating experience, two years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southern and Big South conferences and six years of high school officiating experience in Maryland.
Foster came into the public eye as the best friend of former referee Tim Donaghy. In his book, Donaghy describes Foster as a very honest and good guy who knew nothing of his gambling. However, recently Donaghy described Foster as a company man who will do what is asked of him to keep his seniority among refs. Foster was part of the 2010 Finals game 7 officiating crew that called the final quarter completely different than the first 3 quarters and very one sided for the Lakers with 21 free throws for the Lakers and 6 for the Celtics in the final 12 minutes.
The Celtics are 1-3 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Foster on the court. Foster called a 107-75 loss to Philly in the preseason this year, a loss at Detroit and a win vs the Bucks. None of the 3 games was remarkable, one way or the other. He also called the loss at the Lakers where they shot 31 free throws to 20 for the Celtics and they got the benefit of a lot of questionable calls. The Heat are 4-0 this season and 8-2 with Foster in their last 10 games. He isn't usually influenced by the home crowd as many of the refs are. His home W/L record this season is 30-25. Foster as a lead ref can be very good but he can also be very bad.
Entering his 10th season as an NBA official, Matt Boland has worked 542 regular season games. Prior to joining the NBA, he spent seven years officiating in the CBA, including the 1999, 2000 and 2001 CBA Finals. He also officiated for five years in the WNBA and worked the 2002 and 2003 WNBA Finals, as well as two years in the NBA Development League, working the 2003 NBA D-League Finals. Boland also has five years of USBL officiating experience, including the 1997 USBL Finals. Boland officiated at the collegiate level for four years, working in the MAAC, Ivy, Northeast, TAAC and OVC Conferences. He also has high school officiating experience in his home state of Connecticut and worked two State Finals games in 1997 and 1998.
Boland’s athletic accomplishments include being a member of the PGA where he played in several PGA tour events and still currently holds his PGA card. He spent time working as a teaching pro before joining the NBA staff. He also was a member of the 1986 New England Prep Champions Wilbraham Monson Academy Basketball team. Boland, along with Scott Foster, was questioned by the FBI in regard to the Tim Donaghy case after it was found that Donaghy often phoned Boland on game days. The FBI cleared both Boland and Foster of involvement in that betting scandal, but here they are together.
The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 with Boland. He called a preseason win over Brooklyn where the Nets shot 31 free throws to just 10 for the Celtics. He also called a win over Philly where the Celtics took 16 free throws to 18 for the Sixers and the officiating was good. All 4 games called by Boland last season were called fairly even. The Heat are 1-0 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Boland. His home W/L record is 24-14.
David Guthrie enters his eighth season after officiating 384 regular season games and six playoff games. Prior to joining the NBA, Guthrie was an official in the CBA, NBA Development League and the New York City Pro Am. He participated in the D-League playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the DLeague championship games in 2004 and 2005. He officiated at the collegiate level in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, Southern, OVC, ASUN, Big South and SWAC conferences and participated in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA tournaments. Outside of his life in basketball, Guthrie was a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization playing professionally with the team in Princeton, W. Va., Billings, Mont., Charleston, W.Va. and Chattanooga, Tenn. He attended both Southern Union Community College in Wadley, Ala. and North Carolina State University on baseball scholarships. He played in the Cape Cod Wooden Bat College Summer League for the Falmouth Commodores in 1994 and played baseball and basketball at W.Va. Berry High School in Birmingham, Ala.
The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Guthrie. The Heat are are 2-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10. He called just one game for the Celtics last season, a 94-82 win over the Bobcats in which the Bobcats took 20 free throws and the Celtics 17. The refs did a good job of staying out of the way, which is what you want from an official. One win this season was vs the Wizards in which they took 17 free throws to 13 for the Celtics and again, the refs let them play. The second win this season was the home win over the Suns. The Celtics shot 12 free throws to 18 for the Suns and again, the refs let them play. And the 3rd win was at Phoenix where both teams shot 23 free throws and the officiating was good. The loss was at Charlotte and the Bobcats shot 30 free throws to 25 for the Celtics but the referees weren't a factor in the loss. His home W/L record this season is 32-19.