Tuesday, April 27, 2010
TV: Comcast SportsNet/ NBA TV; Radio: WEEI
Venue: TD Garden
The Boston Celtics aim to close out the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the pair's first-round playoff matchup tonight at 7:00pm.
Presented with an opportunity to sweep the Heat this past Sunday, the Celtics ultimately fell in the fourth quarter, when Dwyane Wade poured in 19 of his game-high 46 points, and Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett all failed to connect on pivotal free throws and baskets in the final minutes. So, the series shifts back to Boston, a site where, for the first two games of this series, the Celtics held the Heat to just 76.5 points per game on less than 40 percent shooting in both instances.
The Celtics are in a favorable position, being up 3-1, but must do tonight what they failed to do on Sunday - close out the Heat. In terms of their own elimination from the postseason being on the line, tonight's game does not qualify as a "must-win", but the Celtics do not want the momentum in this series to shift in Miami's favor in any way. As Paul Pierce mentioned the other day, the Celtics shouldn't see South Beach again until it's time for summer vacation, which will hopefully won't begin until sometime late in June. The Heat finally received a monster, series-saving performance from Wade, and he had help from guys like Quentin Richardson. Now that that's out of Miami's system, the C's need to re-emphasize the defensive end of the floor and advance. We talked about the value of rest heading into Sunday's game, and no one will really complain with four full days off before the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals likely begin this Sunday. However, the C's cannot afford to allow this series to stretch out any farther, as doing so will continue to risk valuable time off to prepare for a probable matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
Heat: Carlos Arroyo, Dwyane Wade, Quentin Richardson, Michael Beasley, Jermaine O'Neal
Keys to the Game:
Defense Comes First: The Heat managed just 76.5 points per game in Games 1 and 2, compared to the 99.5 points per game they averaged in Games 3 and 4 down in Miami. Sure, being at home had something to do with it for the Heat, but more than that, the Celtics were a much more assertive team on defense while this series was playing itself out in Boston.
One Man Won't Stop Dwyane Wade: Jeff Clark's post earlier today featured a quote from Doc about the C's employing a team-wide strategy to try and contain Dwyane Wade. As well as Tony Allen has done on Wade at times this series, it will take more than the efforts of just one man.
Get Back On the Boards: Through the first two games of the series, the Celtics were a +14 in total rebounds. In Games 3 and 4 combined, the Celtics were a -8 in total rebounds. If Rasheed Wallace even manages to find the court, his help in this department would be appreciated.
Hometown Heroes: If you're going to the game tonight, bring the noise. If you're at the game and are reading this on your iPhone or Blackberry, or other mobile device, bring the noise, and remind those around you to do the same. In a game this important to the Celtics, every ounce of energy they receive from the crowd will go a long way.
The Unusual Suspects: The Heat are expecting the four-man wrecking crew of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Garnett to perform tonight. What the Celtics need are other guys, like Tony Allen and Glen Davis, to have the measurable impacts they had on this series through Games 1 and 2. Dealing with Pierce and co. is bad enough for Miami. Having to worry about TA slashing through the lane or Glen Davis stealing an offensive rebound away from Beasley or O'Neal is even more demoralizing.
As always, let's go Celtics.
Who Will Win Game 5 Tonight?
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