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

May 3, 2011, 4:49 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game One Getty Images

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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  1. svallen - May 3, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    Not if Shaq doesn’t show up and help. Celtics need a big guy down low to help the driving powers of LeBron and DWade. The Celtics brought Shaq in for this exact reason – another big guy to help them win a championship. Boston hurt themselves when they traded Perkins away. Green is solid, but he hasn’t been dominant. Shaq can at least be a wall in front of the net. The Celtics are paying him $1.3M+ to sit on the bench – not much help if you ask me!!

    Source: http://www.spotrac.com/nba/boston-celtics/shaquille-o-neal/

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