Boston Celtics (0-1) at Miami Heat (1-0)
Tuesday, May 2
7:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #6 Road Game #4
Round 2, Game 2
TV: TNT, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, WAXY
American Airlines Arena
After bragging about how much better the Celtics bench was than the Heat bench, Big Baby finished with just 4 points and 4 rebounds and a whopping -21 in the +/- column. Jeff Green must be more aggressive on the boards. There is no excuse for a guy who is 6’9″ tall and who has his athleticism and quickness to play over 21 minutes and not get a rebound. Delonte was just 3-9 from the field, missing not one but 2 dunks. One of the keys for this game is for our “superior” bench to play much better.
The Celtics played like they were the young and inexperienced team in game 1, allowing the Heat to be the more aggressive and physical team. They reacted to the Heat instead of being the instigators and they got caught reacting and that frustrated them even more. They have to stay composed and execute their game plan without allowing themselves to get frustrated by the lack of calls or by the physical play of the Heat.
Both teams can point to areas that they can improve. Both Bosh and LeBron could play better. No one on the Heat bench played well other than James Jones. Udonis Haslem is considered day to day and may make his return to the team sometime in this series. For the Celtics, KG, Rondo and Pierce can all play better. The Celtics bench certainly can play better. And Doc has said that Shaq should play in either game 2 or game 3. Chances are that James Jones doesn’t shoot that well in every game. Hopefully the refs aren’t as blatant in calling the game one sided again. If the Celtics play with some intensity and fire and they avoid getting caught up in mind games, they have a good chance of winning this game, regardless of the officiating.
PG: Rajon Rondo………………………………………… SG: Ray Allen
C: Jermaine O’Neal
SF: Paul Pierce………………………………………….PF: Kevin Garnett
Boston Bench Mob
Shaquille O’Neal (calf/old age/Danny Smokescreen) day to day
PG: Mike Bibby………………………………………. SG: Dwyane Wade
C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
SF: LeBron James …………………………………………..PF: Chris Bosh
Udonis Haslem (foot) day to day
Rajon Rondo vs Mike Bibby
Rondo was hampered much of game 1 with foul trouble after picking up 3 quick fouls early in the first half. He played only 29 minutes in the game but while he was in the game, the Celtics outscored the Heat by 7. While he was sitting, the Celtics struggled to find their offense. Rondo had just 7 assists for the game and none in the first half. The Celtics as a team had only 18 assists, which is way below their average. Rondo shot only 30% in spite of taking all his shots in the paint. He also was not using his speed to his advantage, allowing the much slower Bibby to stay with him on defense. The bottom line is that the Celtics need a more Rondo-like game from their point guard if they want to win this game.
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade went off for 38 points in game 1 while Ray Allen put up 25 of his own. The Celtics will need to defend Wade better and not allow him to get the open looks that he was able to get in game 1. Ray needs to stay hot for the Celtics and they need to set screens to get him open as he is the Celtics most efficient scorer at this point.
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh
The Celtics once again were able to keep Bosh from being a factor in the game. He scored just 7 points but did pull down 12 rebounds. The Celtics weren’t able to take advantage of this because KG played just as poorly. He shot just 3-9 for 6 points to go with 8 rebounds. The Celtics need KG to be more aggressive and to be a factor if they want to win this game. They have to work on getting KG going early and hopefully he will hit his shots in this one.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
The Celtics held James to a pedestrian 22 points on 8-19 shooting. Paul Pierce did a good job defending him but sacrificed some of his own offense in doing so. He struggled on offense early but was heating up in the second half just about the time when he was tossed from the game. There is no question that both James Jones and Dwyane Wade should have gotten flagrant fouls for their contact with Pierce, but even when the calls are that one sided and terrible, Pierce has got to keep his cool. He should expect more of the same in game 2 and not allow it to take him out of his game. Jones and Wade were clearly the aggressors and Pierce got caught retaliating. He dodged a bullet by avoiding a suspension and may not be as lucky the next time. He must not let the refs or the Heat get under his skin and he has to let his game do the talking instead of his mouth.
Keys to the Game
Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics must limit their turnovers as the Heat will turn them into fast break points. Wade in particular is good at making teams pay for their turnovers. The Celtics had 18 turnovers in game 1 which the Heat turned into 23 points. They have to take better care of the ball.
Rebound – The Celtics have to limit the Heat’s second chance baskets and fast breaks by crashing the boards. The amount of effort put into winning the rebound battle often follows through to the other areas of the game. The rebounding was even at 39 each in game 1 but the Celtics need to try to out rebound the Heat, not just match them.
Defense - The Heat have tried to make defense their calling card this season. The Celtics have to make defense a priority as well. Defense wins games and defense wins championships. If the Celtics can’t get stops, they won’t win the game. The Celtics allowed 99 points on 47% shootin in game 1 and they need to do a better job on defense.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. In game 1, the Heat were the aggressors and got into the Celtics’ heads because of it. The Celtics have got to be aggressive in getting to the basket and not settle for jumpers all game. They also have to be aggressive in diving for loose balls and winning the 50-50 battles, something they didn’t do in game 1. The Celtics can’t afford to give up possessions by failing to hustle after loose balls and after rebounds. They also must take it to the basket especially if the jumpers aren’t falling. The Celtics have to be the more physical team and not be the team reacting to the physical play of the Heat.
Team Ball - The Celtics need to play team ball. When they move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man and play as a team, they are tough to beat. When they revert to hero ball and there is little ball movement and they settle for quick shots, they rarely win. Rondo is a big part of keeping the ball moving and setting up the offense and he was limited in game 1 because of foul trouble. He has to be more aggressive and run more and keep the ball moving. When Rondo has fewer than 10 assists, it’s a sign that the ball isn’t moving and they aren’t playing Celtics basketball.
Bench Play – The Celtics once again got little from their bench. The Celtics got just 23 points and 11 rebounds from their bench. Jeff Green again came away with zero rebounds. The Heat doesn’t have much of a bench but James Jones outscored the Celtics bench all by himself with 23 points. If the Celtics bench can’t hit their shots, they could at least play defense. There is no way that James Jones should be allowed to shot 5-7 from beyond the arc, mostly on wide open shots. He also was 10-10 from the line. Big Baby, Delonte, and Green must play better. If they can’t get the job done, Doc needs to turn elsewhere. Try Arroyo instead of West. Give JO more minutes- he certainly can play more than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we don’t have much choice but to play Green and pray that he somehow finally gets it.
Stay Composed – The Celtics allowed the Heat and the referees to rattle them. They let the Heat be the more physical team and instead of being the instigators the Celtics reacted to them. They played like they were the younger and reactionary team rather than the veteran team that they are. We can probably expect more of the same from the referees and the Heat feel that they can get to the Celtics again and the Celtics can’t react. They have to play their game and stay poised, especially down the stretch when things are sure to get chippy again.
Playoff Games: 6
Home Team win % in playoffs: .667
Fouls called per game: 43.8
Percent of calls on Road Team: 48.3%
Technical fouls called per game: 1.4
Crawford has been officiating games since 1977 and has officiated more play-off games and NBA Finals Games than any other active referee. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn’t tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many other refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs’ Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call but that was too late to reverse the outcome of the game. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well. And in the Suns 2010 first round against the Blazers, Crawford made what was possibly the worst foul call of all time when he called Marcus Camby for a foul and put Steve Nash on the line. Camby was nowhere near Nash, but that didn’t stop Craawford from calling the foul on him.
Perhaps the most notable example of Crawford’s poor officiating was last season’s Game 7 between the Celtics and Lakers. With Boston leading going into the 4th quarter, Crawford and his cronies completely changed their style of officiating. For 3 quarters, the game was called loosely and they were letting the players play. Suddenly in the 4th quarter, they began to call it tight and all the questionable calls went to the Lakers with the result being a 21-6 4th quarter free throw disparity. Joey showed his quick technical trigger when he called 7 T’s in the OKC/Clippers game, most of which were ridiculous. The Celtics are 4-2 this season, including game 2 against the Knicks when the Celtics shot 16 free throws to 27 for the Knicks, and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Crawford as a referee. The Heat are 3-4 this season, including the game 4 loss to the Sixers in the first round. Crawford is one of the few refs who doesn’t appear to be affected by the home crowd with a home W/L record that is fairly even at 38-31. He also is one of the few refs who calls a higher percentage of fouls against the home team. He is quick to call techs so the Celtics must keep their composure.
Playoff Games: 5
Home Team win % in playoffs: .800
Fouls called per game: 44.2
Percent of calls on Road Team: 53.4%
Technical fouls called per game: 0.2
Phillips has been in the league for 8 years. He has officiated 380+ regular season games. This is Phillips’ second season officiating in the playoffs. Before landing in the NBA he worked for the CBA 6 seasons, the WNBA 3 seasons, 2 years in the Dallas Pro-Am, and 5 seasons in high school level in Texas. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and they are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. It was Phillips and crew in the Celtics loss at Houston that got Tommy to swear on the air about the refs falling for all the blank blank flops. In the loss at Atlanta, he ignored a charge directly in front of him that would have given the C’s the ball with 10 seconds remaining. In that game Atlanta took 10 more free throws than the Celtics. He was on the crew that officiated game 1 of the Knicks series. The Heat are 2-3 this season and 7-3 with Phillips over their last 10. He is pretty much a homer ref, calling a higher percentage of the fouls on the road team and with a homer W/L record of 45/28.
Playoff Games: 3 as lead official, 2 as crew
Home Team win % in playoffs: .667 as lead official, .000 as crew
Fouls called per game: 41.3 as lead, 41.5 as crew
Percent of calls on Road Team: 46.8% as lead, 49.4 as crew
Technical fouls called per game: 1.0 as lead, .5 as crew
Willard has officiated over 1,100+ regular season games and 75+ play-off games. Willard also officiated the 1992 Japanese Opening Games in Yokohama. Before working for the NBA he accumulated 4 years of CBA officiating experience, 7 years in college level and 22 years in high school level in California. He called a technical on Yao Ming in a game in 2007 for saying “ahhhh” after a dunk. He is known for being wildly inconsistent in calling charges/blocks. Willard was also on duty in what Bill Simmons called the most atrociously officiated game of the 2007 playoffs. Of course, much of that could have been Donaghy who was betting on the game and Rush who is completely incompetent. Here is Simmons’ description of that “atrociously” called game:
Congratulations to Greg Willard, Tim Donaghy and Eddie F. Rush for giving us the most atrociously officiated game of the playoffs so far: Game 3 of the Suns-Spurs series. Bennett Salvatore, Tom Washington and Violet Palmer must have been outraged that they weren’t involved in this mess. Good golly. Most of the calls favored the Spurs, but I don’t even think the refs were biased — they were so incompetent that there was no rhyme or reason to anything that was happening.
Willard has only officiated 2 games for the Celtics this season and that was a home win against Atlanta where the Celtics shot 11 free throws to 24 for Atlanta and a home win over Detroit in which the free throws were even at 17 and they let them play throughout the game. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games with Willard. The Heat are 6-1 this season and 9-1 in their last 10 games with Willard The only loss was against the Thunder in which the Heat shot 8 more free throws than OKC. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record of 46-22.
Execution and Officiating
The Celtics didn’t execute their game plan in game 1. They got off to a sluggish start. They walked the ball up the court and didn’t make the extra pass to find the open man. There was too much one on one play in the first half especially. The Celtics need to execute on both offense and defense.
We saw what a difference the officials can make in game 1. The rebounds were even, The Celtics had one more assist and 3 fewer turnovers than the Heat. The Celtics had a slightly lower field goal percentage but took more shots. They had a slightly higher 3 point percentage and made 3 more 3 pointers than the Heat.
Jermaine O’Neal was called for a flagrant foul that wasn’t one and both James Jones and Dwyane Wade committed flagrants that weren’t called, which led to Pierce’s frustration. And, the Heat shot 32 free throws to 18 for the Celtics. The officials had their imprint all over game 1 and will probably do so in game 2 as well. But, if the Celtics execute and play their game, they can win in spite of the officials.