To start, Shaquille O’Neal is officially out for tonight. Troy Murphy will be active in his place. Everyone else is good to go, and Doc commented in the pregame according to Paul Flannery of WEEI.com, that the rotation will unsurprisingly shortened, but Nenad Krstic could still get some minutes.
As far as this contest goes, I encourage you to give Mr. Davenport’s things to watch for column a good look before diving into this contest. Also be sure to read until the very end for the Troy Murphy joke too. A few things to add, if this team wants to see a Game 6:
* The Rebounding and Rajon Rondo: The Celtics were outrebounded by 17 Monday night, after holding their own in the category for the first three games in this series. As always, it’s essential they pound the glass HARD tonight. The problem is with a one-armed Rondo, arguably their third best defensive rebounder in the starting lineup at this point when healthy, his inability to help on the glass with a hobbled left elbow is a major factor. Pierce and KG stepped it up last game, but gang rebounding has to be in full effect tonight. Delonte, Ray Allen, and especially Jeff Green and Glen Davis have to get after it on both ends of the floor, if this team has a chance.
* Shoot The 3-Ball: Boston got cold in this department for the overtime of Game 4, but it’s been one of Miami’s flaws all postseason, the way they defend the stripe. Boston has three of the four best long distance shooters in this series with Delonte, Paul and Ray and they will need to pile up the points from downtown to outpace Miami in the comfort of American Airlines Arena.
* Move the ball. This will be tough to do without Rondo at full strength, but the C’s had a mere 15 assists last game, as the ball seemingly stopped moving after the team jumped out to a 11-point lead in the second quarter. Afterwards, far too many isolations against a punishing Heat defense, and when the ball was moved, careless passes led to 16 turnovers. Tonight, Boston needs to pass the ball and do it with a purpose.
* I want another game. I’ve been sitting here the past three hours, just trying to distract myself from thinking too much about this game. I don’t want this to be over, since as Ryan wrote today, if it ends tonight, it might really be it. I want one more game at the Garden. I want LeBron and company to have to deal with the pressure of a Game 7.
It’s going to take an extraordinary effort to get it done. The role players have to be stopped for Miami. The Big Three have to be contained, all with an undermanned Boston roster. Still, they know what’s at stake. Can they do enough?
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