In the midst of last season's playoff battle between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, Pat Riley motivated the team before the crucial Game 4 of the series. Miami rebounded from a 16-point loss to win a thrilling overtime game to take a 3-1 lead in the series. The Heat will look to recreate that energy to take control of this series and get an opportunity to make a second straight trip to the NBA Finals at home Tuesday night.
The Heat's coaching staff and players had plenty to work on after Game 3's 101-91 loss. Erik Spoelstra admitted yesterday that he and the rest of the team have to get Dwyane Wade in areas where he can play aggressively. In Miami's second-round series against the Indiana Pacers, Spoelstra had the Heat's big men set screens for Wade well above the 3-point line to give him a head of steam heading to the basket. But in this series, Boston has double-teamed Wade on pick-and-rolls. And unfortunately, Chris Bosh won't be able to make things easier for Wade tonight, as he continues to rehab from his strained abdominal injury.
Wade has had bad first halves in all three of the games in this Eastern Conference Finals. Perhaps the answer is to put Wade in post-up situations against a smaller defender like Keyon Dooling or have him simply attack in isolation against a hobbled Ray Allen. But for too often in Game 3, LeBron James was the only player who had anything going offensively.
The Celtics have proven to be a less-than-stellar offensive team this year, but Boston has averaged 100 points in regulation for the past two games of this series. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett have caused problems for Miami, and they formed a lethal pick-and-roll duo in Game 3. Switching the pick-and-roll worked somewhat in Game 2, but Doc Rivers adjusted for Game 3 and had Rondo lob the ball up to the 7-footer. The Heat will need to put more pressure on the entry-passer and force Garnett into shooting jump shots. Although Rondo didn't put together a great statistical game like he did in Game 2, he still managed to get everyone else involved. Rondo didn't have a great performance in Game 1, and the entire Celtics team looked old and sluggish. If Miami finds a way to give him problems, the entire team will suffer.
Game 4 is set for 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.