Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts on Game 1

The officiating may have been atrocious, but it is obvious that, zebras aside, there is much that the Celtics need to improve on to win Game 2. I thought of a couple of critical points that the Celtics need to tighten up on. They aren't groundbreaking ideas and they're all pretty obvious... But they're important nonetheless. The first thing is getting off to a good start. The Celtics have a history of coming out of the gate slow, digging themselves in to a hole and then spending the rest of the game clawing their way out. That is a bad pattern in general, a REALLY bad one in the playoffs, and a recipe for disaster against the Miami Heat in a playoff setting. The Celtics came out sluggish yesterday, appeared to be out of sync and struggled to establish pace and maintain a rhythm. This may have been due to the layoff between rounds, or it may have been because guys were over thinking what they were doing instead of playing instinctual, Celtics basketball, but whatever the case may be, setting the tone and coming out strong is important. I don't care what anyone says- the Heat do not play great team basketball. Their two biggest stars play more of a back and forth game with each other, as opposed to an intertwined, complimentary game to each other. The Celtics play their best basketball when they play as a team. If they can come out of the gate playing as a unit, I think that the flaws of the Heat will start to expose themselves.

As was aforementioned, the Celtics were never really able to get over their slow start and establish a flow. It prevented them from doing much of what they do well, and as a result they overcompensated in several areas. The most obvious one to me was over passing. They are an unselfish basketball team, but there were several instances where guys gave up good shots in an effort to get their teammates involved.

The second thing critical to winning is controlling Miami's role players. It has always been the Celtics mantra that the stars will perform, and what they need to do is minimize the impact of role players. That being said, it's inevitable that Dwyane Wade and Lebron James are going to score and get theirs. It is unacceptable for James Jones to come off the bench and be lights out, many times getting wide open looks at the basket. The Celtics were caught numerous times yesterday watching the dribble penetration as opposed to sticking to defensive schemes and staying with their own individual defensive assignments. Defense is the Celtics bread and butter, and it is even more crucial that they are stifling defensively against the tremendous athleticism and scoring duo the Heat boast.

My third key to the game is getting more from our stars. Rondo was bogged down early by foul trouble, Paul Pierce had a tough first half and was ejected in the second half, and Kevin Garnett was largely ineffective. Ray Allen was the lone bright spot for the Celtics offensively, but it felt like the Celtics were riding him and clinging on. These things could have all been flukes, but is important that the team do all that they can to keep it from happening again. Rondo didn't want Lebron to get an open layup so he fouled him, Paul couldn't hit the side of a barn in the first half but came out ready to play in the second, only to be ejected and KG just had a bad day.

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