Watch It! - Heat at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight night at TD Garden.
Celtics Need Rondo
Rajon Rondo did not play in Monday night’s game in Dallas as he rested in the second night of a back-to-back. He’ll be back in the lineup tonight, and the Celtics need him to play well.
Rondo remains as Boston’s only great advantage in the starting lineup against the Heat. Miami will have its Big Three and then, most likely, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers on the court to begin tonight’s game. Chalmers is a good player, but he’s certainly not on Rondo’s level.
That disparity did not stand out when these teams last met on Jan. 21. Rondo, playing in just his third game of the season, scored only one point while tallying five assists. Chalmers finished with eight points and six assists.
Boston cannot afford to allow Chalmers to outplay Rondo if it wants any chance at winning this game. The C’s need him to lead the offense, both with his passing and with a strong shooting night.
Miami’s Defense… Or Lack Thereof
Miami has been struggling this month. It has gone 5-5 during the month of March, including a stretch in which it lost five of six games.
One of the greatest reasons for the Heat’s struggles has been its defense. It simply has not been able to slow opponents down. Miami has allowed its opponents to score 101.4 points per game this month on 46.9 percent shooting.
It’s no secret that Boston’s offense hasn’t played very well of late but it could turn in the right direction tonight. The hope is that the C’s can take advantage of Miami’s struggles at the defensive end of the court.
Dominate the Glass
One thing you can’t say about Boston this season is that it is a poor rebounding team. The C’s are tied with the 76ers for the 10th-best rebounding average in the league at 43.4 boards per game. That number has increased to 45.8 this month, highlighted by an average of 15.1 offensive rebounds a night.
While Boston has excelled on the glass, Miami has not. The Heat, in fact, stand as the worst rebounding team in the league with an average of just 36.6 rebounds a night.
The Celtics have taken advantage of Miami’s inabilities on the glass by outrebounding the Heat 85-64 this season. That trend should continue tonight and it will be of great benefit to Boston.
Maintain Transition Defense
Brad Stevens noted after Monday’s game in Dallas that his team has been “fairly good in transition” of late. He followed that statement up with this comment: “Knock on wood as you get ready to play Miami.”
The coach made that statement as he eyed the challenge of containing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the open court. Those two players are two of the most difficult guys in the league to slow down in transition. When they’re flanked by elite 3-point shooters, that challenge becomes even more difficult.
Everyone knows that Boston will be at a disadvantage tonight when it comes to overall talent. When such is the case, the less-talented team cannot allow its opponent to score easy baskets. The C’s have been fairly good in transition of late, but they’ll need to be great against Miami.
Remember Last Time
Do you remember the last time Miami came to town? Jeff Green sure does.
Green went off for a career-high 43 points against the Heat on March 18 of last year. He shot 14-of-21 from the field during that contest and got to the line for 13 free throw attempts, which was more than double the amount of any other player in the game.
Green views that game as the time things clicked for him as a small forward. It’s a day that he can look back on with fond memories and as a source of motivation for what he can accomplish in this league.
The opposite is the case when it comes to Monday night’s game. Green scored just five points against Dallas while missing 10 of his 12 shot attempts. The Celtics would much rather see the Green we remember from these teams’ last meeting at TD Garden than the one who surfaced Monday night.