Coming off of their convincing win in Game 1, the Miami Heat will look to win their 5th straight playoff game tonight when they host the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. There has been plenty of chatter in the aftermath of Miami's 14-point victory on Monday, most of which has come from the team in green, but expect both teams to be completely focused and free of any distractions tonight.
Boston wasn't happy with the officiating in Game 1, being called for three technical fouls, and called some of the play by the Heat ‘showboating'. Maybe they haven't noticed but Miami isn't shy about trying to make amazing plays regardless of what stage of the game they are in. Don't expect the Heat to ease up on any of that, and don't expect them to be phased by anything their opponent has to say.
We saw during their last series against the Indiana Pacers that Miami isn't bothered or affected by whatever the other team has to say, whether it be from their coach or their players. I think its safe to say that if a team is going to give up 19 layups or dunks to the Heat (which Boston did in Game 1) you are going to see some pretty awesome plays.
One good thing about Miami's win on Monday is that even though they took care of business and came away with a solid victory, there was still some things about their play that need to be corrected. After an impressive 1st quarter, the Heat's defense softened up and gave the Celtics an opening right back into the game, allowing them to score a playoff-high 35-points in the 2nd quarter and tie the game going into the half. Also, the Heat struggled when Boston switched to a zone defense during the 2nd half, something that will likely be thrown at Miami again. Adjustments will need to be made.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade continued their dominant play in Game 1, combining for 54 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 blocked shots. James came away with his 3rd double double in his last 4 games, averaging 32.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists in those contests. Wade has been equally hot since having his knee drained following Game 3 of the Pacers' series, averaging 30.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in those 4 games.
What helped get Miami over the hump on Monday was the contributions they received from their supporting cast. Shane Battier was all over the court, picking up a double double (10 and 10). Mario Chalmers had a solid all-around game, finishing with 9 points, 5 boards and 4 assists. Mike Miller went 2-for-2 from downtown and Joel Anthony blocked 2 shots and grabbed 6 rebounds. That kind of help from the non-superstars is what helps win teams championships.
Now we'll have to see how Boston responds in Game 2. The main thing that they are saying needs to improve is their defense, which is pretty understandable after giving up 19 layups to the Heat in Game 1. We know that the Celtics are usually a solid defensive team but they haven't been very consistent on that end during this postseason.
One thing that could really hinder the Celtics as this series goes on is the health of their main Heat-killer, Ray Allen. The sharpshooter has been suffering from bone spurs in his right ankle, a very painful injury that is most definitely hindering his ability to shoot the ball the way he has throughout his career. So far in the playoffs, Allen is shooting just 39% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc. That's almost as shocking as his 60% from the charity stripe.
He went just 1-of-7 from the field in Game 1 and missed four of his seven free-throw attempts. It was just the 4th time in his entire career that he missed four free throws in a game. It's hard to see Boston getting past the Heat with Allen struggling like that, but there is plenty of talent on the Celtics roster, if they can just play on top of their game. The question is, can they do that against a surging Heat team? We'll find out over the next week.
Game 2 tipoff from the AAA is tonight at 8:30. Lets Go Heat!