Skip to content

Celtics-Heat Game 7 Preview: Five things to watch

Jun 9, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James and Wade react after a play against the Boston Celtics during the first half in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoffs in Boston Reuters

With so much on the line in Game 7, what are the things that will decide this game? What does it come down to? Here are five things to watch as the Boston Celtics meet the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals Saturday night.

1. For the love of God, stop trying to front Kevin Garnett with Udonis Haslem. The Heat have stuck with this plan for five games and it’s murdered them nearly every time. Rondo can throw a lob pass in-between two crossing speedboats with his eyes closed. So, no, he has not struggled to find the lob to Garnett underneath, resulting in easy scores time and time again. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has sacrificed Udonis Haslem to the former T-Wolf time and time again, despite Haslem having neither height nor athleticism to challenge the entry pass. It’s like building a fortress wall, but only having it be about four feet high. The Heat had more success in Game 6 with timing their double once Garnett goes into his shooting motion in the post rather than upon the catch (where Garnett is more likely to simply pass out). They need to stick with that. They also need to get some help from the Gods by having Garnett miss his 18 footers on the pick and pop. That’s a primary reason Haslem is out there, to have the speed to challenge those shots. He has not been able to. There’s no good answer for stopping Garnett, it’s impossible. There are, however, less awful ones.

2. Keep with the strategy from Game 6 on LeBron James. Sounds nuts, right? But if LeBron James is hitting mid-range jumpers, you’re in trouble, big trouble, awful trouble anyway. Not a lot you can do. Doc Rivers will live with it day in and day out. You take your chances with the jumper. If he hits it, you’ve been beaten by one of the best players in the history of the game who had himself a historic day. You live with it. The temptation is to send doubles at James. The Celtics don’t really do that. Ever. They’ll challenge you with help on drives, but they’re not going to send two defenders at James in a face-up situation from mid-range unless things get really bad. It’s a bad idea. James is an incredible passer, and you’re setting yourself up for easy looks underneath by doing so.

3. Someone unreliable is going to have to have a day. Shane Batter, Mickael Pietrus, Mario Chalmers, Keyon Dooling. One side or the other is going to get hot from the arc and hit shots that honestly, they have very little chances of making regularly. Chalmers and Pietrus can shoot, but in this situation, with these stakes, against this defense? The odds aren’t with them. So what?! Welcome to the circus! Whee! Someone’s going to start nailing threes and that’s going to kill the other team and their fans who will say “We got beat by THAT GUY?!” Like I said, coin flip, man.

4. Drop the Bass. Welcome to Chapter 2 in “Things Erik Spoelstra has done in this series which makes my skull pound like an early Black Keys album is being played  at excruciating volume.” Spoelstra has stuck Battier on Bass. Battier is better matched up with Kevin Garnett than Bass. That’s crazy, but think of it. Garnett’s not going to slam his shoulder into Battier and score underneath. He’s going to take turnarounds based on muscle memory. Battier is susceptible to the lob, but is much better suited to combat that than Bass’ muscle underneath. Bass isn’t going to bust out any great post-moves. He has two shots. The mid-range jumper, which is deadly, and a muscle-in layup underneath. I get that the Heat have limited options, but they’re going to have to either put Joel Anthony or James on Bass. They can’t live with Battier getting crushed underneath. Boston on the other hand can win this game on Bass’ back, making him a hero and entering him into Celtics lore. Kind of a big deal.

5. The Great Big Bosh question. How much can he play? Will he start? A lot comes down to Bosh. The Heat have played better with every minute Bosh is on the floor. They need him, and they need him to deliver, at both ends. The biggest pressure is on LeBron James. The next biggest pressure is on Dwyane Wade. The next biggest pressure is on Erik Spoelstra. After that, it’s Bosh, and his impact could determine not only this game and this season, but the future of the Big 3 in Miami.

Latest Posts
  1. Lakers waive Steve Nash

    Apr 2, 2015, 12:05 AM EDT

    Steve Nash AP

    Lakers clear roster spot to sign Jabari Brown to multi-year deal

  2. Bugs Bunny teases the Jordan XXX in interview with Ahmad Rashad (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 7:29 PM EDT

    Google ChromeScreenSnapz007

    Jordan Brand keeps with the Space Jam theme in advance of this weekend’s retro releases.

  3. Heat’s Shabazz Napier out for season after sports hernia surgery

    Apr 1, 2015, 5:33 PM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Miami Heat Getty Images

    He had only played in one of the last dozen Heat games.

  4. Report: Kings to sign Sim Bhullar to 10-day contract, would be first Indian descent in NBA

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    2015 NBA D-Leage Showcase Getty Images

    Seen at Summer League he was project, we’ll see how far along he has come.

  5. Stephen Curry clear betting favorite to win MVP

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Curry is going to win this award. More than that, he’s earned it.

  6. Ryan Anderson to return to Pelicans lineup Wednesday vs. Lakers

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    Anderson has missed the last 18 games due to injury, and New Orleans is trying to catch OKC for the final playoff spot in the West.

  7. Russell Westbrook has league-leading 15th technical foul rescinded

    Apr 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Russell Westbrook AP

    A 16th during the regular season would mean a one-game suspension.

  8. Lance Stephenson says he doesn’t regret free agent decision to sign with Hornets

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    Stephenson didn’t play in his team’s last game as a result of the coach’s decision.

  9. Stephen Curry crosses over Chris Paul a second time (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry, Chris Paul AP

    Not as devastating as the one that’s made the rounds, but deadly nonetheless.

  10. Report: LeBron James calls the plays, Cavaliers coach David Blatt repeats them to team

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    We know it’s LeBron’s world in Cleveland, but this makes Blatt look a bit silly.

  11. Blake Griffin: ‘Home-court advantage is just not there for us’

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin AP

    This isn’t the first time one of the Clippers has publicly pointed out the obvious.

Featured video

Clippers playoffs? MCW shooting? Your twitter questions answered.
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. H. Whiteside (5828)
  2. K. Durant (5263)
  3. K. Martin (5180)
  4. D. Favors (5108)
  5. K. Lowry (5107)
  1. D. Rose (4945)
  2. G. Monroe (4897)
  3. D. Wade (4882)
  4. P. George (4685)
  5. B. Knight (4682)