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Preview: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics ECF Game #2 9/17/20

Celtics look to even the series as they take on the Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Miami Heat v Boston Celtcs - Game One Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

After letting Game 1 slip away from them, the Celtics are looking to bounce back in Game 2 to even the series at a game apiece. The Celtics pretty much controlled the game through 3 quarters but let they became complacent in the 4th quarter after building a 14 point lead and allowed the Heat to be the more aggressive team and steal the win.

Going into the game, the Heat were well rested after finishing the Bucks in 5 games and they had been off for a week. The Celtics had just 2 days to regroup from a grueling 7 game series. The Celtics started off the game strong, outscoring the Heat 83-71 in the first 3 quarters. However, the Heat outscored the Celtics 46-31 in the 4th quarter and overtime.

The Celtics could definitely benefit from a healthy Gordon Hayward. Hayward has been going through workouts at practice and is said to be getting nearer to a return, but he is listed as doubtful for this game and would be a game time decision if he were able to play. The Celtics can win without him, but it would be much easier with him in the lineup, whether as a starter or off the bench.

Javonte Green has been out since August 25th when he had a procedure on his knee. He is also listed as doubtful and would be a game time decision as well. Even if he is available, he would not likely to have a consistent role in Boston’s rotation. Only Chris Silva is listed as out for the Heat with a pelvis injury.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Semi Ojeleye
Brad Wanamaker
Grant Williams
Enes Kanter
Romeo Langford
Robert Williams III
Tacko Fall
Tremont Waters
Carsen Edwards
Vincent Poirier

Javonte Green (knee) doubtful
Gordon Hayward (ankle) doubtful

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Heat Starters

Heat Reserves
Kyle Alexander
Udonis Haslem
Tyler Herro
Solomon Hill
Andre Iguodala
Derrick Jones, Jr
Myers Leonard
Kendrick Nunn
Kelly Olynyk
Chris Silva
Gabe Vincent

Chris Silva (pelvis) out

Head Coach
Erik Spoelstra

Key Matchups

Kemba Walker vs Goran Dragic
Kemba struggled in the Raptors series and he struggled once again in Game 1 of this series. He scored 19 points, but shot just 31.6% from the field and was 1-9 from beyond the arc. The Celtics will need his leadership and his offense in this series if they are to win it. Dragic had a big game with 29 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. He shot 58% from the field and 50% on threes. The Celtics need to find a way to get Kemba going and also to slow Dragic down.

Jaylen Brown vs Jimmy Butler
Although I expect others to share the job of guarding Butler, Jaylen will certainly be one of the choices as will Marcus Smart. Butler finished Game 1 with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He shot 50% from the field and an incredible 67% from beyond the arc. Jaylen scored 17 points on 43% shooting and was 3-4 on 3 pointers but Butler was the more aggressive player and the Celtics will need Jaylen to be more aggressive in Game 2.

Daniel Theis vs Bam Adebayo
Daniel Theis played well but fouled out in the overtime period. The Celtics were outscored 11-4 after he left the game. Adebayo finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 blocks. Adebayo is quick and mobile and Theis needs to defend him without fouling and especially keep him out of the paint.

Honorable Mention
Jayson Tatum vs Jae Crowder
Crowder finished Game 1 with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. He shot 64% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc. He should not be allowed to shoot those percentages. The Celtics must defend better. Jayson finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists, but was just 4-12 from three. He was just 2-10 in the 4th quarter and overtime. He reverted to hero ball in crunch time and it did not work out very well for the Celtics.

Keys to the Game
Defense- Defense is the biggest key to winning playoff games. Offense is important but if you don’t get stops, it won’t win you many games, especially against a team like the Heat that can shoot the lights out from three. The Heat shot 47% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc. The Celtics failed to get back in transition allowing the Heat to get 16 fast break points. The Heat also had 48 points in the paint compared to 26 for the Celtics. The Celtics must up their defensive intensity both on the perimeter and in the paint if they hope to win this game.

Rebound- The Celtics are averaging 45.7 rebounds while the Heat are averaging 44.9 rebounds per game. However, in Game 1, Miami out rebounded the Celtics 41-37. The Celtics allowed the Heat to get 15 second chance points. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics must put out more effort on the boards If they hope to win this series.

Play Hard 48 Minutes- The Celtics played hard for 3 quarters and were up 12 points going into the 4th quarter. Then, they got complacent and let their foot off the gas and allowed the Heat to be the more aggressive team and to play harder in the 4th quarter and overtime. The Celtics must come out strong to start the game and not let up until the end, regardless of the score. They have to want it more and play like it for 48 minutes (or more if it goes to overtime).

Play Team Ball - The Celtics need to keep the ball moving and play team ball. in the 4th quarter and overtime when the Heat picked up their play on both ends of the court, the Celtics lapsed into hero ball and they settled for iso play on most possessions. Team play and ball movement gave the Celtics the lead and then they went away from that. Hero ball rarely ends well as they become predictable and are much easier to defend. They have to make the extra pass and find the open man and the best shot and play as a team on every possession.

Defend Without Fouling - In the 4th quarter, the Heat became the more aggressive team and the more aggressive team usually gets the benefit of the doubt from the refs. The Heat were in the penalty with 7 1/2 minutes left in the 4th quarter. 10 of their 35 fourth quarter points were at the line. The Heat are 2nd among bubble teams attempting 28.4 free throws per game. The Celtics must try to focus on getting stops without fouling.

Bench Play - The Heat have a very good bench. They got 22 points from their reserves in Game 1, led by Tyler Herro. With Duncan Robinson in foul trouble, Herro played 40 minutes off the bench and finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. He shot 50% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. Brad Wanamaker played well for the Celtics off the bench with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals. The Celtics need to try to stagger their bench minutes so as to have 3 starters in with them for stability.

Coaching - Erik Spoelstra made the first moves to get the win in Game 1. It’s Brad’s turn to make adjustments and counter the defense and offense that he saw from the Heat, especially down the stretch. Spoelstra is a very good coach and hopefully Brad is up to the challenge and will make the changes necessary to give the Celtics the edge in Game 2.

Focus - The Celtics seemed to lose their focus once they built their lead in the 3rd quarter. Instead of continuing to do what got them that lead, they lapsed into iso’s and hero ball and let up on defense. At times they passed up open shots to take contested 3’s. They need to keep their focus and take good shots and keep their minds on playing Celtics ball.

Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor in every game. Every crew officiates differently. Some call it tight, others let them play. While there isn’t really a home court advantage in the bubble, some refs may simulate one with their calls. Some just make bad, head scratching calls as we have seen in several of the games in the first 2 rounds. The Celtics need to adjust to the way the refs call the game and not let bad calls take away their focus.

The three refs for today’s game haven’t been particularly bad and aren’t the names that come to mind when you think about bad refs. But like any officials, they can be good or bad on any given night. James Capers called Game 3 vs the Raptors and David Guthrie called Game 7. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Capers while the Heat are 6-4 in their last 10. The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 with Guthrie while the Heat are 6-4 in their last 10. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games with Tony Brown while the Heat are 5-5 in their last 10.

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