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. Larry Brown on Sixers tanking/rebuilding: “It makes me sick”

    Oct 30, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT

    Larry Brown Larry Brown

    The Sixers CEO fired back, but taking on a Hall of Fame coach isn’t usually wise.

  2. J.R. Smith hints Knicks quit vs. Bulls, Phil Jackson says team not ready for “Showtime”

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks

    It’s going to be a rough transition for the Knicks. New Yorkers have to be patient (not always their strong suit).

  3. Report: Cavaliers, Anderson Varejao near three-year, $30 million extension

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    It’s a sign Dan Gilbert is pulling out the checkbook to spend.

  4. Ty Lawson tells a(n obviously great) JaVale McGee story

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets Media Day Denver Nuggets Media Day

    The time the Nuggets center responded to a heckler

  5. Report: ‘Sense of optimism’ Tristan Thompson will sign contract extension with Cavaliers

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT

    Tristan Thompson, Mike Conley Tristan Thompson, Mike Conley

    Cleveland, as of a few days ago, reportedly hadn’t begun negotiations with Thompson

  6. LeBron makes emotional return to Cleveland tonight, new Nike ad shows city standing together (VIDEO)

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    The season is about process for the Cavaliers, but tonight is about celebration of home.

  7. Pau Gasol: Marc Gasol signing with the Knicks is ‘possible’

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony Carmelo Anthony

    Bulls center has discussed Phil Jackson with his younger brother

  8. Dominant Pau Gasol shows he may be a perfect fit for Bulls

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Pau Gasol Pau Gasol

    Gasol was dominant opening night, and Derrick Rose is thrilled to finally have some help.

  9. Klay Thompson becomes eligible for higher qualifying offer

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

    Ben McLemore, Klay Thompson Ben McLemore, Klay Thompson

    Warriors shooting guard met starter criteria in game against Kings

Featured video

The list of championship contenders
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. B. Beal (7905)
  2. K. McDaniels (7185)
  3. K. Durant (7002)
  4. R. Rondo (6739)
  5. B. Lopez (6219)