We have written the epitaph for the “big three” era in Boston too many times to be sure that this time is really the end.
If feels like it. The Heat are up 2-0 despite a monster game from Rajon Rondo in Game 2. If the more athletic Heat split the pair of games at the Boston Garden this weekend the series may end in Game 5. Then comes the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett free agency and… maybe this is the end.
But these Celtics will not go gentle into that good night, Kevin Garnett has plenty of rage against the dying of the light.
For Boston to win they need real ball movement and some production out of their bench. And they are going to have to slow the game down and grind it out.
Boston put up good offensive numbers in Game 2 — 115.6 points per 100 possessions — but that was on the back of Rajon Rondo’s 44 points and 10 assists. Rondo is capable of another good game, but those kinds of monster games are the outliers for anyone. Miami is going to focus more on taking the ball out of Rondo’s hands, expect plenty of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on him. Rondo is going to need more help, and not just from Kevin Garnett in the post and a slowed Paul Pierce.
Which is why there needs to be better Celtics ball movement — Miami this series has overloaded the strong side where the ball is, which is kind of like using the Celtics’ own defensive style against them. Doing that exposes the backside of the defense, where the Heat can run actions and get the ball with crisp passing — but it has to be crisp because the athletic Heat rotate fast.
Boston has to get its shots close to the rim (and finish) plus keep knocking down jumpers — they hit 19 of 32 (59.4 percent) from 16 feet out to the arc in Game 2. They need all those points.
Then Boston needs to slow the game down, take away the transition points for the Heat, and get a win their way with defense. Their defensive rotations need to be a lot sharper. Boston’s defense was solid in Game 1 but struggled some in Game 2. Part of that is Miami hit 10 of 26 threes, and it’s fair to wonder if they can maintain that level of play.
Like Oklahoma City the night before Boston needs to come out at home desperate and with a real energy. However, after the overtime last game the Celtics starters are going to need more rest, which means the bench has to step up. Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling need to score, Greg Stiemsma needs to stay out of foul trouble. The Starters will need rest and the drop-off cannot be what it has been.
Still, you know Boston will play desperate, they will be physical, they will have their fans behind them. To them, this basically is a closeout game.
They will not go gently. But they still might go.