Miami Heat (39-14, 19-9 away) @ Boston Celtics (38-14, 23-5 home)
Game #: Game 53, Home Game, 29
Time: 1:00PM EST February 13th, 2011
Venue: TD Garden
TV: ABC Radio: WEEI
The Line: The Celtics are 2-0 against the Miami Hype Machine this season.
Miami currently has a 8 game win streak, while Boston is coming in from
consecutive losses, and is 5-5 over their last 10.
GAME THREAD | CHAT ROOM
Well, we can make one clear assumption about this game: It will not be easy.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first. The Celtics are depleted by injuries. My inclination here is to make some sort of joke, maybe a metaphor, or even a non-sequitur if I'm feeling frisky, about the Celtics' health as a team, but honestly, its not really that freakin' funny anymore. The Celtics will be without Shaquille O'Neal, who has officially passed from "just being old and tired' to actually being hurt, Delonte West who wasn't cleared to play today, Jermaine O'Neal who is immersed in his research on building a bionic knee, Marquis Daniels, who we are just hoping will be able to play again this season, and also Semih Erden, who might be out until after the All-Star break. If' you're keeping track at home, that is 3 previously starting centers, our second string shooting guard, and our second string small forward, both of the last two who effectively functioned as the primary ball handler while Rajon Rondo is out.
On top of that, the Miami Hype Machine are playing some excellent roundball right now. They're on an 8 game winning streak, with a margin of victory of +7.1 points over that span. The Celtics, predictably (but not excusably, that is an important distinction) are 5-5 over their last 10, and have lost consecutive games against the Bobcats and Lakers.
Lastly, the Heat are a little fired up for this game. The Celtics have beaten them twice, and the Heat understand that until they beat the Celtics, especially in Boston, they're not going to be regarded as the better squad, no matter what the standings say (where the Heat are coincidentally first in the East alone for the first time in a month. Here is what LeBron James had to say about this:
"It's going to be a hostile environment," James said. "It's going to be a great game. It's two teams that have the same aspirations, and that's to win the NBA championship. They're the defending Eastern Conference champions and you've got to kind of go through them to get what you want." (via ESPN)
That's the bad news, now if you're still with me, let me tell you why the Celtics are going to win today.
If you're a fan who prefers anecdotal evidence to actual facts (like me), than you probably believe like I do, that these Sunday afternoon games, or "Sun-nooners" as they are affectionately never called, are trap games. The Celtics come out lazy, and they drop games big and small to other teams..or so one might think. Well, I dug out the ol' fact finding gear and went on an expedition. The Celtics are currently 4-1 on the year in games that start before 3pm on a Sunday, and that includes games against the Orlando Magic and the LA Lakers. Contrary to popular (my) beliefs, the Celtics do come to work on Sundays.
The second piece of good news is that the Celtics have not dropped three consecutive games all year. They haven't had a "losing streak". Now, I'd feel better about our odds if ya know...we had a full roster or whatever, but the fact remains.
The Celtics have also lost 6 of their 14 games so far this season to teams with winning records. Of those six loses, the Celtics are 4-2 in 'bounce back' games against losing team..so we uh...we got that goin for us, which is nice.
Are the odds stacked against our boys today? Yeah, I guess you could say that. But we got Kevin Garnett, and we got Paul Pierce, and we got Ray "Record" Allen. That makes it better than house odds, no matter how you slice it. Gunga Galunga.
Injuries And Stuff: Shaquille O'Neal (OUT), Delonte West (OUT), Marquis Daniels (OUT), Jermaine O'Neal (OUT), Semih Erden (OUT, BUT STILL TURKISH)
Injuries And Stuff: Udonis Haslem (OUT), LeBron's sense of self awareness (Incredibly Damaged)
Match-Up Of The Manatee: Paul Pierce V LeBron James
Well, this is a bit of a pick your poison thing here between Wade and James, so I went with James. The truth is, we have nobody on our bench that can cover either guy. Marquis Daniels is hurt (get better Quis!), Tony Allen is in Memphis and doing well for himself, and James Posey apparently left the team in 2008.
To put it bluntly, Pierce is on his own today. LeBron has been playing MVP-caliber ball lately, and keeping him from taking the game over is no easy task, even on the best of days. We're going to need Paul Pierce to give a heroic performance today; 35+ minutes, 20+points, and All-NBA defense isn't too much to ask, right?
Three Keys To The Game For The Good Guys:
1) Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins Say, YOU SHALL NOT PASS!- Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are not going to keep Wade and James out of the paint. It is simply not in the cards. Hand check rules,
ref conspiracies, and the laws of physics dictate that James and Wade will find their way towards the basket with some frequency today. But, that's the one ace in the hole Boston is holding. KG and Perkins are well versed at stopping both guys, and together these guys function as a heck of a unit. There will be fouls, and there will be and-1's and acrobatic finishes, but its a marathon, not a highlight reel, and if Perkins and KG can keep Wade/James from getting the easy shot more often than not, Boston has a decent chance of getting the win today.
2) Rajon Rondo, We're Gonna Need A Bigger Stat-Line- Rondo can really do some damage today against the Heat. They've got a weak interior D, a slower defender at the point guard position, and way too many TV commercials. Rondo has been more aggressive lately at looking for his own shot, so hopefully that turns into some points and easy layups.
3) We're Gonna Need More Shrek And Less Baby- Glen Davis has a heck of a chance to do some damage today. Against the Lakers, he did a bangup job defending Andrew Bynum when he was out there, but today, he gets a creampuff assignment. if he's not facing Juwan Howard, he'll be facing Zydrunas Ilgauskus (I know I misspelled that, I don't care. If he was American his name would be Ziggy). Glen Davis should be able to exploit both players on the offensive end without too much hassle. His energy and scoring ability off the bench will be huge today too, because aside from Davis we have a hobbling Nate Robinson and a..well..regular Von Wafer.
That's it guys, hope you enjoyed it, and please dear lord someone tell me they clicked on the Tony Allen link.