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.
Jul 10, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
Why would you show up to LeBron’s empty house?
Jul 10, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT
He had a good playoff run for Memphis, that got him a new deal.
Jul 10, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
“Instead of thinking of reasons why your coach should be playing you, honestly assess reasons as to why he isn’t.”
Jul 10, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT
A run down of the free agent signings we have so far.
Jul 10, 2014, 2:51 PM EDT
Houston has 72 hours to match
Jul 10, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT
Tolliver could land on a quality team next season.
Jul 10, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT
Signing likely signals end of Mo Williams’ time in Portland
Jul 10, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
The market for Evan Turner has been a bit dry. To put it kindly.
Jul 10, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT
Denver’s first-round pick, acquired from Bulls, won’t spend another year in Europe
Jul 10, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Washington reportedly refusing to pay Ariza more than $9 million per year
Jul 10, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Phoenix clears cap room
Jul 10, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
LeBron’s website reportedly has an interesting new color palette on recently created pages
Jul 10, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT
New Orleans no longer has enough cap room to absorb Asik’s salary
Jul 10, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
Johnson facing domestic assault charge
Jul 10, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
Cavaliers wanted Miller as part of LeBron James courtship
Jul 10, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
The Rockets may need to move Jeremy Lin fast… but to the Sixers?
Jul 10, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT
Rockets have 72 hours to match
Jul 10, 2014, 12:08 AM EDT
Flip Saunders has been patient all along, that’s not changing now.
Jul 9, 2014, 11:26 PM EDT
Toronto keeping core together from successful 2013-14 team
Jul 9, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Does that bode better for Heat or Cavaliers?
- With lower-than-expected salary cap, will Rockets and Pelicans still complete Omer Asik trade? 17
- Reports: LeBron James and agent done meeting with teams 77
- Rockets can’t keep Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons and give Chris Bosh max contract 46
- Donald Sterling in court calls wife “pig,” promises to sue NBA “until I die” 43
- Report: LeBron James leaves meeting with Pat Riley without committing to Heat 86
- Report: Mavericks shake up Rockets’ free-agent plans, agree to offer sheet with Chandler Parsons 42
- Gregg Popovich agrees to extension with Spurs, likely stays past Tim Duncan era 32
- Report: Cavaliers want to swing Kevin Love trade if LeBron James comes to town 51