SPECIAL THANKS TO FLCELTSFAN12 for posting these pregame Previews on the forum every game!
Time To Play Like It's 1969! Miami Heat (10-6, 2-3) at Boston Celtics (11-7, 3-2) Thursday, June 7, 2012 8:30 PM ET Playoff Game #19, Home Game #10 TV: ESPN Radio: WEEI, ESPN Radio TD Garden
Probable Starting Matchups
vs vs vs vs vs
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) out
Key Off the Bench
Mickael Pietrus/ Marquis Daniels/ Keyon Dooling
These 3 players have come up with big plays in the Celtics wins. They have come off the bench to give the starters some rest and they have played great defense along with hitting some big shots. Marquis was the hero of game 4. Dooling's defense has been consistently good along with hitting big 3 pointers in each win, especially in game 4. Pietrus also has played good defense in each game, He has also grabbed key rebounds and hit big shots, especially in games 4 and 5. Greg Stiemsma was also effective in his minutes in game 5. The Celtics need the same type of effort from these key bench players again in game 6.
Chris Bosh (ab strain) probable
Key off the Bench
Joel Anthony/ Norris Cole / Mike Miller
The Heat need Anthony to come in and help defend KG along with blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. He is their only real size inside other than Bosh and they need him to help them try to stop KG. Norris Cole has given them some energy and has played decent defense on Rondo, including a chase down steal in game 5. They will need more from him, especially if Chalmers struggles again. Miller is clearly hurting, but has hit huge 3 pointers for them in games so far. The Heat's bench players contributed in their wins in Miami but have struggled in their losses for the most part, especially the ones in Boston. The Celtics need to limit their production again in this game.
As the series shifts back to Boston, the Celtics will attempt to finish the task of coming back from an 0-2 deficit to win a playoff series. The last Celtics team to do this was the 1969 Celtics team that won my heart so many years ago. After their 0-2 start, we heard how only 14 teams have ever come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best of 7 playoff series. We also heard the stat that the team that wins the first 2 games goes on to win the series 94% of the time. But here they sit, up 3-2 and one home game away from advancing to the finals.
The Celtics were counted out at the beginning of the season when they got off to a slow start. They were counted out mid season when they lost 7 of 8 going into the All Star game. They were counted out when they lost the series opener to Atlanta. They were counted out when they lost home court to Philly. And they were counted out when they lost the first 2 games of this series to the Heat. They are too old, too beat up, too slow, etc. Just as that 1969 team defied all of their critics to win the championship that year, this team has defied all of the criticism to come to within one win of the finals. Never underestimate the heart of a champion.
This will be the toughest game yet, though. Despite what Andrew Bynum thinks, closeout games are extremely hard because teams play their absolute best when their backs are against the wall. The Heat are going to come out with guns blazing and will give it their all to avoid elimination. I expect Wade and LeBron to play their best, but, on the road, role players often struggle, which may give the Celtics the advantage they need.
The Heat brought Chris Bosh back in game 5. He came off the bench and gave them 14 good minutes. After the game he said he was feeling good and expected to play more in game 6. I'm expecting Spo to insert Bosh into the starting lineup in this one and start Haslem next to him at the power forward spot in an effort to limit KG and Bass, something they haven't done very well so far. Of course, Soelstra doesn't always make moves that make sense so he could again start Batter at the 4 and Haslem at the 5.
There has been much talk about the officiating in this series so far. While the officiating in game 1 was bad, the Celtics lost that because they played poorly. Game 2, was a different story in that calls (and non-calls) down the stretch had a definite influence on the outcome of the game. In games 3, 4 and 5 the officiating was even and although there were blown calls and missed calls in all 3, they at least went both ways. I'm a bit worried about the officiating in this game. Games 4 and 5 set new records for viewers on ESPN and a conspiracy buff might think that Herr Stern would like to see that go a couple more games rather than end in this one. I'm not expecting home cooking for the Celtics but would love to see it called fairly.
It's time for that Celtics Pride to kick in and for the Celtics to come out strong and play tough defensive basketball from start to finish and end this series with a convincing win! If heart counts for anything, I'll put my money on the Celtics to win this one and to take the series.
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers
As always, Rondo is the key to the Celtics offense, defense, and energy. The Celtics need to stay with Chalmers as he is capable of hitting big shots. The Celtics struggled somewhat in the first half of game 5 but then came on strong down the stretch behind the inspired play of their point guard. The Celtics need an aggressive and focused Rondo from start to finish. In an elimination game, they can't afford to bring anything but their best play from start to finish.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
This has been a key matchup for the entire series. LeBron has come out strong in each game but then tends to struggle late in games. Paul Pierce has struggled early in most games and then hit huge shots down the stretch. The Celtics need a complete game from their captain on both ends of the court in this game. He is hasn't really had a big game in this series and this would be a great time for him to pull it out.
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh (or whoever)
KG has been absolutely amazing throughout these playoffs. One of the keys to winning the last 3 games is KG's play inside and the KG and Rondo pick and roll. The Heat have had no answer for this so far. With Chris Bosh expected to play more minutes, KG will have to play a little harder on defense but I still don't expect Bosh to be able to stop KG's offense that has been so consistent in this series.
Keys to the Game - Defense wins championships, plain and simple. The Celtics' defensive intensity is the biggest key to getting this win. The Celtics have proved that they can defend the Heat and limit both Wade and LeBron for stretches. The Celtics now must also deal with Bosh and so it makes doubling Wade a little more difficult. The Celtics MUST play in your face team defense from start to finish.
Run the Offense - The Celtics must run their sets and move the ball. The Celtics are at their best when they are moving the ball and making the extra pass and finding the open man. Along with moving the ball, they have to make smart passes and not the sloppy passes that lead to turnovers since turnovers against the Heat usually lead to a LeBron or Wade dunk at the other end. The Celtics must be aggressive in going to the basket and either score, draw a foul or kick it out to the open man. Smart ball movement is crucial to beating the Heat since I expect them to ramp up their defense for this game.
Rebound - The Celtics got out worked on the boards 48-33 in game 1. The rebounds in game 2 were even at 42. The Celtics out rebounded the Heat in their games 3 and 4 wins. In game 5, the Celtics were able to pull out a win in spite of being out-rebounded by 10. Much of rebounding is desire and effort. How else can you explain 6'1" Rondo out rebounding everyone on the court? The Celtics have got to put out more effort in going after rebounds and crashing the boards. Winning the rebounding battle will be crucial to winning this game.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team if they want to win this game. They have to be the team that wins the 50/50 balls. They have to be the team more aggressive on the boards. They must be the more aggressive team in going to the hoop and finishing at the hoop, not just driving toward the basket and hoping to get the foul because as we have seen in the games so far, the refs don't always call the fouls even when they are obvious. And they have to be the more aggressive team on defense. They can't allow the Heat to outwork them. They have to want this game more and go after it.
Bench Play - The Celtics reserves must continue to come up big for them. The Celtics have gotten key contributions from Pietrus, Dooling, Quisy and Stiemsma and they need them to once again play big in this game. The Heat's role players have not played as well on the road as they have at home and so hopefully that trend continues.
X-Factors Home Court and Officiating
The Celtics are playing at home and that gives them an advantage in this game, although, the Heat are very capable of winning games on the road. The home crowd must be loud and intimidating. They have to give the Celtics a boost and rattle the Heat, especially their role players.
The officiating in game 1 was absolutely horrible. The officiating in game 2 was even worse. The officiating in games 3, 4, and 5 wasn't always perfect, but it was even. Hopefully with the spotlight on the officiating in this series, they will once again call it fairly.