Jun 9, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT
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.
Oct 20, 2014, 12:26 AM EDT
Kobe Bryant reaches, Alec Burks teaches.
Oct 19, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT
Taj Gibson knows how to finish.
Oct 19, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Tom Thibodeau is not the yoga type.
Oct 19, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will take the floor together for the first time since the preseason opener.
Oct 19, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Experimental preseason game between Nets and Celtics took place Sunday.
Oct 19, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Things feel a little different in Miami.
Oct 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Parker wants the league to spread out the regular season over more weeks.
Oct 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Hollins won’t adjust starters minutes as he coaches the Nets during the experimental game Sunday.
Oct 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
“Akron” celebrates James’ homecoming.
Oct 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
The Knicks star says the biggest issue for players is the amount of consecutive games they play.
Kawhi Leonard to miss remainder of preseason due to infection, availability for opening night in question
Oct 19, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Popovich had legitimate reasons for holding him out.
Oct 19, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Oct 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Anthony should have more help than in the recent past, but he’ll need to score plenty in order for his team to have a shot.
Oct 18, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Olajuwon is employed by the Rockets, and has been working with Howard the last two summers.
Spurs’ Gregg Popovich fires back at Suns owner’s apology: ‘I’m just surprised he didn’t do it in a chicken suit’
Oct 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
Popovich goes deep, referencing an incident that occurred back in 2005.
Oct 18, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Parker is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors.
Oct 18, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Bryant can still get up.
Oct 18, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Celtics have too many guaranteed contracts, and are already set at Bynum’s position.
NBA announces groundbreaking partnership to implement basketball development curriculum in Chinese schools
Oct 18, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Huge step in increasing the game’s popularity on a global scale.
Oct 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Of course that’s not going to happen.
- NBA’s 44-minute game clocks in at under two hours, players barely notice 0
- Nets coach Hollins on 44-minute game: ‘The change will be for the guys who don’t start’ 9
- Spurs’ Gregg Popovich fires back at Suns owner’s apology: ‘I’m just surprised he didn’t do it in a chicken suit’ 6
- Blake Griffin goes after Trevor Booker following flagrant foul, says he may retaliate in the future (VIDEO) 30
- Suns coach Hornacek says shortening games won’t help teams rest their stars 2
- Lakers coach Byron Scott’s philosophy on three-pointers: ‘I don’t believe it wins championships’ 33
- Accounting for Klay Thompson choosing a contract extension over new-TV-deal money 2
- Kobe Bryant calls ESPN voters who ranked him No. 40 ‘idiots’ 34