Miami Heat (1-7) at Boston Celtics (7-0) Friday, November 16 7:30 PM ET TV: CSN HD, Sun Sports, LP Ch 753 TD Banknorth Garden
Probable Starting Matchups PG: Rajon Rondo vs Jason Williams SG: Ray Allen vs Dwayne Wade SF: Paul Pierce vs Penny Hardaway PF: Kevin Garnett vs Udonis Haslem C: Kendrick Perkins vs Shaquille O'Neal These are the probable matchups although Pat Riley has threatened to shake up the team by changing his lineups and he may put a totally unorthodox starting lineup on the floor to send a message. Imagine him benching Shaq and starting Blount.
Key Matchups vs Wade came back from his injury in the last game and played 24 minutes off the bench scoring 15 points and dishing out 5 assists. I expect him to be back in the starting lineup and ready to go, although he may still be a bit out of condition. Wade is the Heat's most dominant player and Ray is due for a big game so this should be a good matchup.
vs Although Shaq isn't as dominant as he once was, he still can be a force. Perk has played well against him in the past and should be able to hold his own against Shaq. His play in the middle will be key.
Key Off the Bench
James Posey will want to have a good game against his former team. Tony had his best game yet against the Nets and look for his confidence to continue to grow as he works his way back from the injury.
With Dwayne Wade back in the starting lineup, expect Ricky D to resume the role he filled in Boston as the 6th man. Ricky always plays big against the Celtics. While Blount has had a very small role in Miami so far, playing behind both Shaq and Mourning, he still holds a grudge against the Celtics and will want to beat them. Who can forget Ricky and Blount hugging after they beat the Celtics last season and Blount skipping across the court the year before. While he may not play a key role on the floor during the game, beating him sure will feel good.
Keys to the Game: Don't take them for granted. Too often teams lose to lesser teams because they take them for granted. Any team with Shaq and D Wade is still a dangerous team in spite of their slow start.
Defense. This will be the key to every single game this season and it has been the cornerstone of this team so far. As long as they play tough defense, everything else will fall into place.
Ball Movement. When we stop moving the ball and there is too much dribbling and there are too many ISO's, we aren't near as dominant. When they are unselfish and move without the ball and look for the open man, they are almost unstopable.
Home Court Advantage. This isn't to be underestimated. The Garden crowd has been great the players have mentioned how fired up the crowd gets them. It also has to be intimidating to the visiting teams.
The Heat have had a rough start. Pat Riley is questioning their motivation and heart. Here is what Riley had to say about his team after they lost to the Bobcats.
"I don't see a team that really feels like they have anything at stake here," Riley said. "They come in, they play, they get beat, they go home."
"I should play. I guarantee you I should suit up. I'd play better than some of them right now. I guarantee you. I swear to God. With an old hip, 62 years old, can't (expletive) see. I'll play better than some of my guys tonight. Come on."
Two things can happen from a coach calling out his team like this. One, they can tune him out and rebel and continue in a downward spiral or two, they will take it to heart and come out all fired up to prove him wrong. The combination of Wade's return to the starting lineup and their coach calling them out publicly should give them a boost so they shouldn't be taken lightly in spite of their 1-7 record.