In one of the most anticipated regular season games of the year, the Boston Celtics hosted the Miami Heat Oct. 26 in a showdown of supposed Eastern Conference powerhouses. While it’s hard to put too much credence into a first game of the season, the fact the Celtics had their way with the Heat was a good indicator that Miami wasn’t going to prance through the season like everyone expected.
The final score was 88-80, but the game was never in doubt.
If the Heat doesn’t want history to repeat itself tonight when they play the Celtics in Miami, they have to fix some massive holes.
Miami is coming of an embarrassing collapse at the hands of the Utah Jazz a mere two nights ago. The Jazz exploded for a monster comeback victory that included the Heat squandering a 22-point lead overall and an 8-point lead with only 37 seconds remaining.
As a result, this group may come out timid and unsure of their capabilities. It would hardly be surprising given the compilation of players with weak psyches on the roster. Or, they could take the criticism they’ve received since the Utah loss and use it as motivation. They are no longer being put on a pedestal by the league. This is their time to band together and prove the world wrong.
A big weakness was exposed when Jazz forward Paul Millsap ate the Heat’s lunch to the tune of a 46-point outing. Keep in mind, this is a guy who averaged just over 11 points per game in 2009, and he’s out there beasting and feasting on the interior Miami defense. Some (read: The Daily Heat) pointed out the fact that this Miami team is weak inside a long time ago, but folks appear to finally be paying attention.
It appears Miami will catch a lucky break, however. Both Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal are uncertain for this game (another non surprise). Early rumors have Shaq wanting to play, but it won’t matter much either way given his poor conditioning and declining skill level. There is no excuse for the Heat to not take advantage of the Boston interior in this game. Bosh was a pathetic (again, no surprise) 3-of-11 the last time he squared up against Kevin Garnett (a punk), and he absolutely, positively has to break out in this game. Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas cannot allow themselves to get bullied by such a depleted Boston big-man group.
The only thing that can really hurt Miami tonight is the play of Celtics point guard, Rajon Rondo. With an amazing 14.8 assist per game total for the year, Rondo will have his way with this Heat team and there is nothing they can do but grin and take it. In fact, they should simply just start praying now that he doesn’t surpass the 17 assists he dropped on...
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