Boston: 105.4 points/100 possessions (t-12th)
Miami: 109.1 points/100 possessions (4th)
Boston: 97.7 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Miami: 99.7 points allowed/100 possessions (4th)
Probable Miami Starters: Almario Vernard Chalmers (PG), Dwyane Wade (SG), LeBron Raymond James (SF), Christopher Wesson Bosh (PF), Joel Anthony (C)
View from the Opposing Bench: The Heat Index
One gets the feeling, lazily taking the pulse of Celtics fandom around the Internet, that the Heat are about the last team we want to see right now. The C’s are as beat up as they’ve ever been, and coming off of a string of games against high quality teams. They need a break, from serious competition and from national media attention. Thankfully, some of them will get just that at the end of this week. But until then, we’ve got to deal with a bunch of arrogant jerks in peacoats who happen to have formed an extremely good basketball team.
The Heat are on an eight-game strizzle, but six of those games have been against losing teams the Heat should be beating anyway. The two respectable teams in the mix, Oklahoma City and Orlando, only lost by six and four respectively. Detroit went down by only one point. Yes, it’s a streak, but it’s a lucky streak.
The C’s, meanwhile, are in what is becoming a full-on swoon with losses in three of their last four. They’re now shorthanded at center, small forward, and essentially both guard positions if Nate Robinson is out. But the losses have all been close: the C’s led each of them in the third quarter and never fell by more than six. And you know how bad they want this one. They want it so, so bad.
Since we’ve done two previews of the Heat already, and you know what they do, let’s focus on how they performed in the two games they played against Boston a million years ago. The C’s won the first 88-80 and the second 112-107.
WHAT THE HEAT DID WELL
Possess LeBron James. LeBron’s averaging 33 points, 12.5 free throws, 7 boards, and six assists against Boston this season. He’s kept the Heat in games by hurling himself at the rim over and over again, willing points onto the board. He’s MVP right now. If nothing else is working for the Heat, you can be pretty sure than LeBron will be.
Defend between the rim and the arc. Discounting Paul Pierce’s 5-5 night from 10 to 15 feet in the second game, the Heat were stingy in the three midrange zones. But since then, they’ve actually developed their defense around preventing higher-percentage shots: they’re now the best team in basketball at protecting the hoop. Credit Joel Anthony, but James is about as much of a factor here as anyone else on the team.
WHAT THE HEAT DID POORLY
Prevent the three. A major factor in the last two Heat games was the Celtics shooting the 3-ball out of their collective gourds, a factor which might not bode well for continued success in this game. The C’s shot 17 for 32, a success rate of 53%, well above their normal percentage and at a higher volume. The Heat have become the second-best team in the league at defending the three by shooting percentage, so it’s unlikely that the C’s will win on this front again.
Possess Dwyane Wade. Wade was 6 for 28 in his these games. That’s 21 percent. 1 of 8 from 3. 50 percent from the line. Twelve turnovers. There may not be a player, accounting for the effect of the high usage he’s gotten, who’s performed worse against a team than Dwyane Wade has against Boston this season. Still, those numbers are probably more the result of Wade’s early-season bugaboo than Boston’s defense. Don’t count on a night like that tonight, but certainly feel free to hope for one.
Introduce their players with any dignity whatsoever.
I honestly feel like not enough has been said about this intro video. I feel duty bound to post it again.
Here are some of the things that are in that video introduction for an NBA basketball team:
-People adjusting their tie knots
-Almost overwhelming smugness
-Everyone turning slowly toward the camera like they’re in some kind of soap opera intro.
-About eight scarves
Here are some of the things that are not:
-Anyone playing basketball
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY
This farting menace:
Eddie House, Mike Miller, and James Jones. There may be no fact in basketball more annoying than this, but Heat games are swung by how well these three guys are shooting. When James and Wade draw defenders, these guys get open looks, and sometimes all there is for the opposition to do it wait to see if they fall. Unfortunately, they’ve been falling.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
The point guards and centers. No reason to put Bosh or Wade in this section to be controversial at the cost of sanity. Really, you can still get to this Miami team by attacking these two positions on offense and forcing them to get touches on defense. They’re still the worst in basketball at both of these positions, as I wrote about in my first CelticsHub post ever. Carlos Arroyo, opening night starter, is now growing roots on the bench, but Eddie House is the new backup to Mario Chalmers, and we’re all too familiar with Eddie House’s ability to run an offense/play defense. As it stands, the job of the people playing these positions for the Heat is too disappear while the other three go to work.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE TONIGHT:
James and Wade have really concentrated their attack on the rim in their last few games. We want to see the Celtics send them back without getting into foul trouble. We want them to attack the Heat’s weak points on defense. And we don’t want the shooting performances of Eddie House, Mike Miller, or James Jones to decide this game.
I don’t think they’ve got the legs. Hope I’m wrong. Heat 99, C’s 94.