Miami looked dominant on opening day. They came into the season trying to unbalance a defense with speed and aggressiveness, and it worked on Dallas — Miami had 100 possessions, nine more than they averaged last season.
But Boston is a better defensive squad and should prove an interesting preseason test. The two teams meet in Miami at 8 p.m. Tuesday, with the game broadcast on TNT. Which means we get to hear Shaq mumble his thoughts on the Heat.
Pace will be key. Boston is a deliberate team (22nd in the league in pace last year), but they are also a team prone to turnovers that could fuel the Heat’s running game. If Miami runs they will win this game — Boston is a good transition defense team but Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are two of the best open court finishers there are.
Another area to watch is the post. LeBron and Wade went there more often this year and looked good, again creating matchup problems for whomever they play, Sasha Pavlovic (starting for the injured Paul Pierce) would need help on LeBron in the post.
On the other end of the court, the Celtics have talked about getting Kevin Garnett and other Celtics more post touches as well. Against the Knicks on Christmas the Celtics barely went to the post (3.7 percent of possessions ESPNBoston.com reported, down from 12 percent last year). With no real defensive center on the Heat (unlike the Knicks with Tyson Chandler) the Celtics will probe there.
The next question for Boston is will they make the extra pass, can they create open looks against an aggressive and athletic Heat defense? You can’t dribble through the Heat defense forever, but crisp passing would get Celtics enough room to knock down good looks.
There are other questions. Can Chris Bosh bounce back with a good game against Garnett after a lackluster opener? Can Rajon Rondo tear up the Heat’s point guards? How much to the Celtics miss Pierce?
You don’t want to read too much into the second game of the season, but this will give us a view as to where these teams are now. And in a 66-game season every game counts.