After defeating the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening, the Boston Celtics will be looking to have similar success on Friday when they face off against Erik Spoelstra’s team for the second game running. Of course, there will undoubtedly be some differences from Wednesday’s game, most notably the player personnel available at Miami’s disposal.
According to a video posted by Jimmy Butler on Friday morning, he will be involved in Friday’s game, and it would appear he’s not short on confidence when it comes to his ability to make an impact.
"Boston! I'm on the way. Can't wait. Been out for too long, I'm getting thirsty!"— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 2, 2022
Jimmy Butler's message ahead of Heat-Celtics tomorrow night. Butler has missed the last 7 games due to a knee injury.
(via @JimmyButler/ IG) pic.twitter.com/t0jlo8pu5d
Given some of the in-game success Miami found when attacking Boston’s half-court defense, it will be interesting to see how Butler, and whoever else returns to the rotation, impacts Miami’s offensive execution throughout the game. Still, this is the Celtics we’re talking about, the team with the top-ranked offense in the NBA and an ever-improving defensive rating. So, with all that being said, here are my tickets to triumph for Friday’s game.
Limit Miami’s ability to run their offense through Bam Adebayo
Miami found consistent success with running their offense through Adebayo, both on the elbow and around the wing, with the big man being used as a hand-off threat or as a pitch passer to a player curling out of the corners.
Boston will need to make some adjustments in how they defend these actions because the more you allow the Heat to get downhill or into the mid-range, the easier it is for their guys to score. Instead, Boston needs to force Adebayo away from the wings and make Miami play off the dribble — an area where their on-ball creation is weakest.
Furthermore, allowing Adebayo to orchestrate the offense the way he did on Wednesday is always going to be troublesome, as defenders will seldom want to leave him in space, thus minimizing the Celtics' ability to dig as the handoff occurs. It’s not going to be easy, but Adebayo is simply too gifted to allow him space to unlock doors for the Heat’s offense.
Continue to pressure the rim
We all know the Celtics are on fire from deep right now, and given the way they play and the amount of open and wide-open looks they create for each other, it’s hard to imagine their current hot streak being extinguished for more than a game or two at a time. However, driving the rock makes too much sense to ignore against a Heat team that genuinely struggles to defend their rim.
As we can see from the shot chart from the last meeting between these two teams, Boston did a fantastic job of getting to the rim and making their opportunities count. So, I’m simply asking for more of the same — especially if Boston continues to drive, engage the low man and then dump it off to a cutter or big situated in the dunker spot because that’s just beautiful basketball.
Cleaning The Glass has the Heat giving up 69.5% of attempts at their rim, so getting to the cup should be the first option on the mind of every member of the Celtics rotation, especially if they start off slowly from the perimeter.
You may have noticed there are only two tickets to triumph in today’s edition, and that’s because we’ve already seen Boston overcome some of the bigger questions: dealing with the Heat’s physicality and antagonism and successfully attacking their zone defense. While the fact that Miami is still far from fully healthy also limits the aspects we can reasonably look at.
As such, if the Celtics can tighten up their defense, especially in the half-court, continue to attack as they have been for most of the season, and punish the Heat around the rim (where they’re weakest), there’s no reason the Celtics shouldn’t end the night with a 19-4 record. And I don't know about you, but that seems like a great way to start the weekend for me.