Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Miami Heat tried to go at Kemba Walker in the post.
In a deja vu sequence to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Sunday’s Heat-Celtics matchup reminded us what opposing teams do in playoff series. They find a weak link and exploit it time and time again.
Walker isn’t a poor defender — he’s second in the league in drawn charges — but he’s physically limited by size and doesn’t have much of a chance one-on-one in the post against stronger wings. Erik Spoelstra and the Heat created an entire gameplan around forcing Walker to switch onto their wings and pounding the ball inside as much as they could.
Nothing like this is exactly breaking news. The Celtics let the switching happen, as they’ve done in the past. But Miami was masterful at clearing out that entire side of the floor and using movement, flare screens and backdoor cuts from their other four players to prevent other Celtics defenders from blanketing Kemba with help.
The movement of the Heat is the subject of our newest CelticsBlog Film Room segment:
It’s easy to look back at the game and describe what went wrong. The important part is prescribing the solution and figuring out what the Celtics can do to avoid these situations.
Spoelstra and his veteran-laden squad are really smart at picking apart consistent coverages. Stevens and his Celtics, however undermanned, likely need to change their tactics throughout the game just to keep the Heat on their toes.
A strategy I’ve long advocated for is using Kemba solely on Robinson and not switching any actions involving him. Boston’s defense has always been set up to switch 1 thru 4, but these are different times with a lot on the line. It may only be a regular season game, but with the play-in tournament at stake, the Celtics will want to do everything in their power on Tuesday to put forth a postseason effort.