The Celtics didn't begin the 2009 NBA Playoffs as well as they would've liked. Granted, Game 1 was extremely intense and showcased a marvelous head-to-head battle from point guards Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo, but you never want to allow the road team to steal Game 1 from you in your building. Especially in overtime, as the defending champions, at the expense of an unstoppable (at least on that day) rookie.
Boston wasn't the only higher-seeded club to blow a Game 1, however. Portland got romped by Houston on Saturday night, while Dallas played tough in San Antonio and Philadelphia pulled off a late 18-point comeback to steal one from Orlando.
Regardless, what's in the past stays in the past, and there is still plenty of basketball to be played. As Tyson Chandler said last night after New Orleans' 113-84 Game 1 loss to Denver, you'll take yourself out of a series quickly if you dwell on previous outings. If you lose a game, you lose a game. From there, you've got to move on and try to get the next one.
Tonight, the Celtics will look to redeem themselves back at the TD BankNorth Garden in Game 2. Should Chicago manage to somehow pull off back-to-back victories, the defending champs would be knee-deep in trouble. On the same note, this team is more than capable of taking care of business tonight and taking homecourt advantage back in either Game 3 or 4.
Get your popcorn ready.
Regular Season Record: 62-20
Eastern Conference Seed: 2
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Rajon Rondo (29.0)
RPG: Rajon Rondo (9.0)
APG: Rajon Rondo (7.0)
SPG: Ray Allen (3.0)
BPG: Glen Davis/Kendrick Perkins (2.0)
Primary Focus: Play Celtics Basketball
Simply saying "play Celtics basketball" is very vague. There are two things we should look for our beloved Celtics to do tonight. First and foremost, they need to close off penetration and refuse to allow Derrick Rose to dominate the paint like he did in Game 1. One of the keys in doing this is Rajon Rondo making the mental decision to move his feet and stay in front of him (easier said than done), as opposed to gambling and hoping that he can poke the ball free from behind. Take away as many lanes as possible, and make the Bulls shoot as many jumpers as possible. Even Tyrus Thomas. Trust me, he will not go 8/12 every night.
On the other side of the floor, the Celtics need to do what they have done since 2008 training camp: play as a team. Move the basketball. In Game 1, Doc Rivers and the Celtics fan base were very disappointed with all of the one-on-one play and lack of ball reversals, swings, and draw-and-kicks. As Doc noted, it seemed as though everybody was trying to be "the man." If the Celtics want to win games and advance in these playoffs, they're going to have to move the ball and work for better shots.
Regular Season Record: 41-41
Eastern Conference Seed: 7
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Derrick Rose (36.0)
RPG: Joakim Noah (17.0)
APG: Derrick Rose (11.0)
SPG: 5 Tied (1.0)
BPG: Joakim Noah/Tyrus Thomas (3.0)
Primary Focus: Own the Glass
Prior to Game 1, I noted that it was important for Chicago to make their presence felt on the glass. They did just that, as they held a 54-45 rebounding advantage and even got 17 out of Joakim Noah by his lonesome. If Chicago can continue to hit the boards like they did in Game 1, they'll continue to give Boston problems.
Luol Deng (anterior right tibial stress fracture - out)
John Salmons (strained groin - will play)
Jerome James (ruptured achilles tendon - out)
Kevin Garnett (right knee - out)
Brian Scalabrine (post-concussion syndrome - out)
Keys to Victory
- Close Off Penetration, Protect the Paint
- Ball Movement
- Control the Defensive Glass
- Get Something Out of Ray Allen