Tag: Heat Celtics Game 2

Celtics Heat Basketball

Winderman: League’s silence on Rivers, Rondo comments speaks volumes


Something rather curious happened in the two days leading to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.


Silence. No NBA announcement of a fine for Doc Rivers. No statement from Stu Jackson, the league’s vice president of discipline.


Not even after the Celtics coach called his Game 1 technical foul from referee Ed Malloy the worst technical he ever had called on him in his career.

So it was curious how Rivers tried to dance around the issue of the inequity of foul calls in Game 2 of the series, basically trying to put words into a reporter’s mouth so he didn’t have to reach into his wallet, something he curiously didn’t have to do in the 48 hours leading to Game 2.

Even after Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 at the start of the previous round for questioning the league’s reluctance to acknowledge flopping by the Heat.

Even after Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was fined $25,000 at the end of that series against Indiana for questioning hard blows from the Pacers against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade that had gone uncalled.

So why the NBA silence with Rivers’ pointed comments about Malloy’s quick whistle?

The only logical answer is the league recognized Rivers was correct, that “Come on,” no matter the punctuation afterward, should not result in a point for the other team, particularly when the only damage created was to a referee’s ears.

Then came Wednesday night and Wade’s rake across the face of Rajon Rondo that went uncalled at the most critical juncture of overtime. This time no whistle. This time Ray Allen speaking up for Rondo when an exhausted, physically and emotionally, Rondo attempted to duck the issue in his postgame presser.

By and large, Wednesday’s crew got it right, be it going to replay to double-check clear-path fouls or correctly reducing a late Rondo 3-pointer to two points with his foot on the line.

They got all the correctable calls correct.

But that doesn’t make Rondo’s face feel any better.

Or get the Celtics level in this series, with the Heat now up 2-0 heading into Friday’s Game 3.

So expect for silence this time, as well, regarding Rivers’ non-comment comments on the inequity of  Wednesday’s whistle and regarding Allen’s podium defense of the call that Rondo rightly deserved when Wade’s fingers met Rondo’s face.

For all the statements issued by the NBA and Jackson, sometimes silence makes the greatest statement.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter @IraHeatBeat.

Celtics find their offense in Rondo, Heat still pull out OT win

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Two

There are occasional games where the Celtics offense looks good. Games where Rajon Rondo looks like the best point guard in the land, driving the lane and knocking down threes. Games where the Celtics and passing and cutting and scoring with the shots they want.

Boston had one of those nights Wednesday. In a series where they were expected to struggle to score Rajon Rondo dropped 44 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. He scored all 12 Celtics points in overtime. Ray Allen was knocking down threes. Paul Pierce had 21. Boston put up 111 points. Their offense showed up.

And the Heat still won in overtime 115-111 to take a 2-0 series lead heading back to Boston.

“It’s tough to have (Rondo) play that way and not win the game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said afterward. “He basically did everything right. We had a lot of opportunities to win the game.”

This one is a punch to the gut for Boston. This was the game they needed to win. They played with the energy and resolve of a younger team, they were physical and just took the game to the Heat. Boston pushed Miami off the spots on the floor they wanted to be, Boston cut off the penetration. It worked.

They led by 15 in the first half, and while you knew a Heat run was coming the Celtics fought those runs off and had chances to win it. They will regret not doing so.

In the end, the Heat made plays. Miami showed the kind of resiliency we usually just credit to veteran teams like the Celtics. LeBron James got the offensive rebound on his own miss at the end of regulation robbing the Celtics of a last shot. (LeBron would miss a second attempt to win in regulation, a 20-foot jumper over Rondo when he should have attacked more. Then late the Celtics struggled to stop the LeBron/Dwyane Wade pick and roll. Wade attacked and got a key and-1 over Kevin Garnett. On the whole Boston did a good job on Wade, trapping on the pick-and-roll with bigs and trying to take the ball out of his hands. It’s why the picks set by LeBron worked so well — you can’t trap off him. Wade finished with 23 (LeBron had 34).

The Heat kept attacking — they took 47 free throws as a team. It’s a sign they were trying to get to the rim. LeBron took 24 free throws alone and helped Paul Pierce to foul out.  The Celtics as a team only took 29 free throws. They think they got robbed (and they did at a key point in OT when Wade fouled Rondo on the head and it was not called).

Udonis Haslem stepped up with some timely key shots, finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Boston just does not have people they can turn to for that kind of bench scoring — the Celtics had 7 bench points. It’s not enough. That kind of effort from the starters and to not get a win hurts.

Boston heads home and needs to replicate that offensive performance — their offense has been a roller coaster all season but this time the Celtics have to find a way to do it again. And a little better. Get a few more calls at home and make it stick.

Because now they have to win 4 of 5 from the Heat. And with their athletes, you know the Heat will keep making plays.

Expect Ray Allen to play Wednesday night in Game 2

Ray Allen

Doc Rivers may have thought about sitting Ray Allen, may have talked about it with the media, but you didn’t really expect it to happen, did you?

Officially the call will be made on game day, as Rivers told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

Allen doesn’t want any part of that, he wants to play. As Tuesday afternoon turned to evening it seemed more clear he would get his chance. He just rested and rehabbed his ankle on the day off in hopes he can give a little more in Game 2. Look what he told ESPNBoston.com.

“My trainers and I discussed (taking a game off),” Allen conceded, “but I really, really do not want go that route. Just put me out there and let me do the best I can.”

Or, look at Rivers said later.

“Not yet,” Rivers told reporters later in the day when asked about a potential move. “We’re good. Ray is Ray, we’re going to just keep rolling him out there and see what we can get. When we feel like he can’t give it to us, we’ll go with someone else. But I think right now you have to give Ray a fighting chance.”

The real problem is Rivers doesn’t have someone else. Avery Bradley is out after surgery on both shoulders. There’s Marquis Daniels but he isn’t playing any better than even injured Allen and he can’t shoot the three ball. Personally, I’d give Keyon Dooling more run. Not that he’s the answer, but he’s the best of the bad choices Rivers has to make.

Maybe more Dooling rests Allen more and it helps. But the problem isn’t just Allen’s shooting (28 percent from three in the playoffs), it’s that the Heat are targeting him on defense. Allen can’t stay in front of Dwyane Wade or even Mario Chalmers at this point. He’s a liability.

But you can expect him to be out there in Game 2.

NBA Playoffs: Boston defenseless against Miami

Miami Heat's LeBron James celebrates after scoring against the Boston Celtics in Miami

Boston is down 2-0 to Miami. It feels a lot worse.

Celtics fans can take solace that the Celtics are heading back to the Garden, but it’s hard to see how that — or Shaq or anything else — is going to make a big difference in this series.

For two games, Miami has robbed Boston of its strengths.

It has taken Boston’s identity, and added youth and athleticism.

For one, Boston’s defense as been laid to waste. In Game 2 Miami won 102-91, putting more than 100 points on the vaunted Celtics defense. They scored at a 114.6 points per 100 possessions pace after reaching 107.6 in Game 1. For some perspective, on the season Boston gave up just 97.8 points per 100 possessions during the season.

Miami’s offense attacked off the dribble then used quick passing and motion off the ball to expose the weak side defenders. To add to that, Miami went on its best runs when they forced turnovers and got out in transition before the Celtics could set their defense. And when all else failed, Miami just drained threes over the top of it.

That Miami was able to get inside the heart of the Celtics defense brings us to the other strength ripped from Boston — Miami was again the tougher, more physical team.

Boston tried to punish anyone who dared dribble penetration, but Miami took the punishment and still scored inside, hitting 12-of-16 shots at the rim. Miami was more aggressive and that is why they got to the free throw line 14 more times. (Sorry Celtics fans, that wasn’t the refs. If you shoot jumpers you don’t get to the line, and your guys started for the outside shot as the game wore on.)

While the Celtics overload on defense, on the other end of the floor the Heat stay balanced and count on their athleticism to challenge shots and create turnovers. It’s working, as Boston made of point of trying to get the ball inside but ended up shooting just 14-of-27 at the rim with Miami making a number of blocks inside.

This wasn’t some blowout from the start, Boston stayed close. Early on it was because of Kevin Garnett, who hit some face up jumpers in the first half (he finished with 16 points on 20 shots). In the second half Rajon Rondo awoke from a six-quarter slumber and started to push the tempo and attack the rim.

Boston tied the game at 80-80 with 7:30 left — then Miami went on a 14-0 run, capped off by a LeBron put back dunk off a Wade miss that pretty much signaled the end of the game.

Or, think about Game 2 this way: Miami’s big three had 80 points on the Celtics defense, Boston’s big four combined for 56 points. James led everyone with 35 on 25 shots.

For a while in the fourth quarter Boston was relying on Glen Davis for steady post scoring as their offense, and that is the sign of big trouble — there is a reason he is open. Meanwhile LeBron and Wade and were creating shots for themselves and teammates.

Miami has a confidence now, one that starts with its defense but touches everything they do. You can sense it, every time Boston makes a run Miami answers. They had LeBron James draining threes and on one turnover James just bowled over Rajon Rondo. Or they had Wade absolutely spinning Kevin Garnett around and breaking Ray Allen’s ankles for a three.

Boston is not out of this series mathematically. But it’s hard to imagine them wining four-out-of-five after watching the first two games, after seeing the Heat physically dominate. Really, right now it’s hard to imagine Boston winning more than one.

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

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game One
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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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