Miami Heat (10-4, 2-1) at Boston Celtics (9-7,1-2)
Sunday, June 3, 2012
8:30 PM ET
Playoff Game #17, Home Game #9
TV: ESPN, TSN
Radio: WEEI, ESPN Radio
Referees: Joe Crawford, Bill Kennedy, Greg Willard
The Celtics will look to even up the series in this game. If they can get another win and take the series back to Miami tied at 2, it's a whole new series. A loss would pretty much guarantee the Heat a series win since it would be difficult for the Celtics to have to win 3 games in a row including 2 in Miami.
Erik Spoelstra has said that he doesn't expect Chris Bosh to play in this game even though he accompanied the team to Boston and participated in their Friday shootaround. The Celtics once again used their off day to rest and view film, choosing to save their legs for the games. It's expected that all of the Celtics will be available for the game.
Both teams know the importance of this game and we can expect a bar fight. The Heat know they gave the Celtics some life with the win in game 3 and are going to try to get the momentum back. Word is that they were loose and unconcerned in their locker room after the game and so they still feel they have control of the series.
The Celtics have to come out with energy and keep that intensity up throughout the game. They must again limit Wade and James, especially in the paint. And they have to move the ball and run their offense and make a concerted effort to get into the paint themselves. If the officiating is fair, the Celtics have a good chance to get the win and take the series back to Miami tied at 2 apiece.
PG: Rajon Rondo ........................................................SG: Ray Allen
C: Kevin Garnett
SF: Paul Pierce .........................................................PF Brandon Bass
Coach: Doc Rivers
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) out
PG: Mario Chalmers ......................................................SG: Dwyane Wade
C: Ronny Turiaf
SF: LeBron James ...................................................PF: Shane Battier
Coach: Erik Spoelstra
Chris Bosh (ab strain) out
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
We haven't seen a big game from the Captain in this series as yet. He had 23 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists in game 3 and did a good job of defending against James without getting into foul trouble, but Pierce can play much better when he really sets his mind to it. I expect a big game from the Captain and the Celtics have to continue to play team defense on James to keep him out of the paint.
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers
Rajon Rondo has been playing some incredible basketball in this series so far. He has been running the offense, hitting his shots, and playing good defense. Chalmers has also been playing well in the series so far but there is no question that Rondo has out-played just about everyone. The Celtics need Rondo to continue his 0ther-worldly play in order to win this game and even the series. The Heat really have had no answer for him.
Kevin Garnett vs Ronny Turiaf/Joel Anthony
Kevin Garnett had yet another impressive performance in game 3. The Heat have thrown Turiaf, Haslem, Anthony, and even James at him to no avail. In game 3, KG moved closer to the hoop and was playing in the post more and there was nothing the Heat could do to slow him down. KG needs to continue to play in the post and anchor the defense in this game as well.
Key Off the Bench
Mickael Pietrus/ Marquis Daniels/ Keyon Dooling
These 3 players were key to the victory in game 3. They came off the bench to give the starters some rest and they keyed a defensive stand that kept the Heat scoreless for a stretch of over 6 minutes. Marquis especially was effective in cutting to the hoop and grabbing rebounds and jumping into passing lanes. Dooling's defense kept Chalmers from getting the team into their offense. Pietrus also played good defense and even though he didn't hit a shot, he was able to help stretch the floor and also was active on the boards. The Celtics need the same type of effort from these key bench players again in game 4.
Joel Anthony/ Udonis Haslem/ Mike Miller
The Heat need Anthony to come in and help defend KG along with blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. He is their only real size inside with Bosh out. Haslem is a thug and is good for at least one very hard foul a game. Miller is clearly hurting, but hit 3 huge 3 pointers to help the Heat cut the lead in the 4th quarter. The Heat's bench players contributed in their wins in Miami but struggled in game 3. The Celtics need to limit their production again in this game.
Keys to the Game
Defense - As always, defense is key to winning. Period. The Celtics must play tough in your face defense from start to finish. They can't let themselves get caught up in a shoot out and must concentrate on getting stops. Just as in game 3, the offense feeds off the defense and so tough defense is absolutely the key to a win.
Rebound - When the Celtics out rebound their opponents, they usually win the game. In game 3, the Celtics out-rebounded the Heat 44-32. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics have got to continue to crash the boards as a team and the effort that they show on the boards usually transfers to their entire game.
Focus and Take Care of the Ball - When the Celtics aren't focused, they tend to turn the ball over way too much. The Celtics tend to lapse into sloppy ball at times and turn the ball over. Against a team like the Heat, turnovers will most surely lead to a Wade or James dunk. The Celtics turned the ball over just 10 times in game 3 and the Celtics have to keep their focus and continue to make smart passes and take care of the ball.
Bench Play - The play of the Celtics' reserves was a key to winning game 3. Keyon Dooling, Mickael Pietrus and Marquis Daniels all contributed quality minutes off the bench. This unit keyed a defensive stand that held the Heat scoreless for over 6 minutes, allowing the Celtics to build the lead that would withstand the Heat's comeback attempt in the 4th quarter. The Celtics need their reserves to come up big in this game as well.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must come out as the more aggressive team from the start. They must be more aggressive chasing loose balls, going after rebounds, playing defense, and most of all driving into the paint and getting to the rim. They can't settle for jumpers. The Celtics outscored the Heat 58-46 in the paint in game 3 and they have to continue to be aggressive in getting into the paint in game 4. Controlling the paint will be key to getting this win.
Playoff games as lead official - 10
Home team win % - 70%
42.7 fouls called per game
46.6% of fouls called on home team
1.3 technicals called per game
Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,402 regular season and 278 playoff games, including 46 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s 278 playoff and 46 NBA Finals games are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well. This is the Celtics 7th game with Crawford this season. He officiated the Christmas day loss to the Knicks, third Wizards game, and the win over the Cavs, and the April 1 game vs the Heat, all of which were well officiated. He also called the Lakers game in LA where the Celtics shot 12 free throws to 26 for the Lakers and they let the Lakers get away with a lot of contact the entire game and the Celtics not so much. He called game 4 vs the Hawks where the Celtics shot 13 free throws to 17 for the Celtics and the refs pretty much let them play. He also called game 6 of the Philly series where the Celtics shot 23 free throws to 28 for the Sixers and the officials called it fairly. The Celtics are 4-3 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Crawford. The Heat are 2-3 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 with Crawford . His home W/L record this season is 31-28 and he's not easily influenced by the home crowd.
Playoff games as crew official - 8
Home team win % - 62.5%
40.0 fouls called per game
48.3% of fouls called on home team
1.3 technicals called per game
Kennedy’s 13 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 814 regular season and 42 playoff games including 3 Finals games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has 5 years officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated 2 games in the WNBA Finals in 1998, and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs and certainly, Kennedy hasn't forgotten. Here is how Doc described the incident:
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. Go figure. According to Tim Donaghy, Bill Kennedy is gay and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. The Celtics are 2-2 with Kennedy this season. The win was at Indiana where the Pacers shot 31 free throws to 14 for the Celtics. When the Pacers were down 7, Kennedy called a bogus flagrant foul on Pietrus that gave the Pacers 2 shots and the ball. And if that wasn't enough he called another technical on Pietrus for taunting on that same play. In a 7 point game with 34 seconds to go, they handed the Pacers 5 points. Much was said about Kennedy's past with Doc before game 6 with Atlanta but that game was well officiated, with the Celtics getting some big calls down the stretch. Kennedy got the Celtics back in the next game, however as in game 4 of the Philly series, the Celtics shot 19 free throws to 36 for the Sixers and every questionable call was in favor of the Sixers. The Celtics are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Kennedy on the court. The Heat are 4-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Kennedy. His home W/L record this season is 35-24.
Playoff games as crew official - 2
Home team win % - 100%
41.5 fouls called per game
45.8% of fouls called on home team
0.0 technicals called per game
Greg Willard has officiated 1,464 regular season, 124 playoff, and two
Finals games since joining the NBA officiating staff 23 seasons ago. Prior to joining the NBA, Willard spent four years officiating in the CBA and has four years of collegiate officiating experience in the PCAA and Pac-10 Conferences. He is known for being wildly inconsistent in calling charges and blocks. The Celtics are 4-1 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 games with Willard on the court. He called the second of the Wizards games that the Celtics won In which the Celtics were called for 23 fouls compared to 17 for the Wizards. He also called the loss vs Phoenix where the Celtics shot just 9 free throws to 16 for the Suns. He also called the win vs Chicago where the Celtics shot 26 free throws to 24 for the Bulls. The last game he officiated for the Celtics in the regular season was against the Bobcats where the Celtics shot 17 free throws to 20 for the Bobcats. All 4 games were called pretty well. He called just one playoff game so far for the Celtics and that was game 1 vs the Sixers where the Celtics shot 19 free throws and the Sixers shot 20 free throws. The game was also well officiated. The Heat are 4-1 this season and 8-2 in their last 10. He's another ref who is not influenced by the home crowd and has a home W/L record this season of 30-30.
Officiating and Effort
We have seen in the 3 games so far that officiating is absolutely key to this series. In game 2 the Celtics played very well but the officiating was inconsistent and the refs made some bad calls against the Celtics down the stretch and in OT resulting in a loss. In game 3, the Celtics once again played very well but the officiating was consistent and fair and the Celtics won. The way game 4 is called is absolutely crucial to the outcome.
The Celtics effort in game 1 was lacking and they never were really in the game. In the last two games they showed great effort. They could easily be up 2-1 if the officiating had been even in game 2. The Celtics need to bring that same kind of effort and intensity in this game in order to get the win.