Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game One

NBA Playoffs: Can Boston flex its muscle in Game 2?

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Sunday Miami knocked the expected story lines of this series on its head — they were more physical than Boston.

For all the talk about composure and the referees James Jones from three, the biggest surprise out of Game 1 was that Miami pushed Boston around.

And that’s where things need to start to change for the Celtics in Game 2.

Boston needs to establish its physicality without just sending LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on a parade to the free throw line. Boston is not going to change much of what it does on defense — they’ve won a title with it and were one of the best defenses this season overloading the strong side — but look for them to bump more and foul hard when they do.

Does this mean Dwyane Wade will go off again (38 points in the first game)? Depends. Can he keep hitting from the midrange, or does he start to wear down a little from a second game of chasing Ray Allen off screens? Last game his shot was just on and that was key.

What Boston wants to do with their defense is to own the paint, take away penetration and turn you into jump shooters. That actually worked pretty well against the Heat, save for the part where the Heat kept hitting their shots. Miami also did a good job with guys flashing from the weakside near the basket to get buckets, that is what Boston will have to adjust for.

The other big key for the Celtics is Rajon Rondo. He was not good in Game 1. Unless you think Mike Bibby is a good defender and just stopped him. In which case you need to go back on your meds. Rondo turned the ball over and did not exploit the Heat’s guards, but he is going to have to if Boston is going to win this series. More pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop with Garnett.

Miami would like someone on their bench to step up again from three, and they need to get more out of Chris Bosh. Kevin Garnett made Bosh uncomfortable all game and the result was Bosh was almost a non-factor. How does Miami change that? There’s no good way, KG is a great defender, but Bosh needs to move more quickly and be more decisive when he catches the ball.

The tone for this game will be set early — will Miami get some easy buckets, maybe in transition after their defense forces turnovers? Or will Boston take away those easy buckets, control the tempo and let Rondo start picking apart the Heat via the pick-and-roll. A lot is riding on Rondo, he has the weakest Heat defender on him.

Look for this game to be physical and intense, and how the referees let them play also will matter.

Expect Boston to bounce back their best game of the playoffs, one where they are the most physical team. Will that be enough is another question.

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Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.

Kevin Durant with huge dunk on visiting Fenerbahce Ulker

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Welcome to America, Fenerbahce Ulker.

The Turkish powerhouse was in America playing some exhibition games this preseason, and they got a first-hand reminder that Kevin Durant is back. KD had 13 points in the Thunder’s easy 111-81 win.

Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook got in on the act.