at Miami Heat (0-0) at Boston Celtics (0-0)
Saturday, April 17
8:00 PM ET
Round 1 Game 1
ESPN, CSN-NE, Sun Sports
Radio: WEEI, WINZ, ESPN Radio
TD Garden ProbableStarting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo 13.7 PPG 9.8 APG 2.3 SPG
Carlos Arroyo 6.1 PPG 3.1 APG 0.5 SPG Shooting Guard
Ray Allen 16.3 PPG 2.6 APG .363 3P%
Dwyane Wade 26.6 PPG 6.5 APG .300 3P% Small Forward
Paul Pierce 18.3 PPG 4.4 RPG 3.1 APG
Quintin Richardson 8.9 PPG 4.9 RPG 1.2 APG Power Forward
Kevin Garnett 14.3 PPG 7.3 RPG 0.8 BPG
Michael Beasley 14.8 PPG 6.4 RPG 0.6 BPG Center
Kendrick Perkins 10.1 PPG 7.6 RPG 1.7 BPG
Jermaine O'Neal 13.6 PPG 6.9 RPG 1.4 BPG Off the Bench Reserves
Tony Gaffney Injuries
Rajon Rondo (flu) probable Rondo missed most of Friday's practice with the flu. He was up most of the night vomiting and was sent to the hospital for some IV work. He is expected to play but may not be 100%
Tony Allen (flu) probable
Glen Davis (flu) probable Off the Bench
Udonis Haslem Injuries
Mario Chalmers and Paul Pierce are former Kansas Jayhawks
Jamaal Magloire and Rajon Rondo are former Kentucky Wildcats
Dwyane Wade and Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers both attended Marquette
Jermaine O’Neal and Marquis Daniels were teammates in Indiana from 2006-08. Key Matchups
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Wade is playing the best ball of his career and will be a tough match up for Ray. He is a threat to drive to the hoop, shoot from the perimeter and is also tough on defense. We could see a switch on defense with Rondo guarding Wade and Ray on the easier to guard Arroyo. Or we may even see Pierce switch to guard Wade at times. Or Doc may even resort to a double team to slow him down. If Wade covers Ray, the Celtics need to continue to run Ray off of multiple screens to make Wade really work hard on the defensive end. Whatever they do, one of the keys to this game is to slow down Dwyane Wade.
Rajon Rondo vs Carlos Arroyo
We have seen all season that as Rondo goes so go the Celtics. Rajon needs to be aggressive on both ends of the court. He also needs to make sure that the team is moving the ball and making the extra pass and running the offense. The biggest weakness in the Heat defense is at the PG spot. Teams with strong PG's have given the Heat problems this season and the Celtics need to exploit this. Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Michael Beasley
Beasley is a young and athletic and is capable of getting to the hoop if the defense gives him an opening and can also hit the jumper. Hopefully KG will be up for the task defensively as Beasley can be a handful to guard. Beasley is going to be out to prove himself in these playoffs and KG will need to play like the pre-injury KG in order to keep him from doing so. Players to Watch
Paul Pierce says he finally has shaken all the nagging injuries that were bothering him for most of the second half. His play in the last few games bears that out. The Captain needs to play well and be aggressive, particularly taking the ball to the basket for the Celtics to be successful.
Dwyane Wade carries his team most nights. They depend on him to lead the team and if the Celtics can slow him down, they have a good chance to win this series. Weak Links
The Heat have a strong bench with Udonis Haslem in particular playing very well. Sheed has been a disappointment all season but has maintained that he would step it up for the playoffs. It remains to be seen if he can step up his game after coasting all season.
O'Neal's minutes have been limited and he has been once again battling ankle injuries. He doesn't like playing physical centers and is quick to lose his cool as we saw when Bill Walker played him physically in the preseason. It's also possible that O'Neal's creaky ankle can flare up again as well. Game Notes
The Celtics won the season series 3-0; Celtics won the season series 3-1 against Miami in 2008-09
Kevin Garnett netted 24 points in his one game against the Heat this season
Dwyane Wade is averaging 35.5 points per game against the C’s this season
The Celtics are 13-8 against Miami since the 2004-05 season
The Celtics are leading the all-time series 52-35 with the Celtics 27-15 at home
This series will be about experience vs momentum. The Heat come into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league, having won 16 of their last 20 games. The Celtics have been inconsistent and have absolutely no momentum coming into the playoffs. The question will be whether the experience of the Celtics can overcome the momentum of the Heat.
Both teams have a mix of young stars and aging stars. The Heat have the series' best player in Dwyane Wade. Both teams are mostly healthy. Both teams know they have to win with defense. The Heat have been doing it over their last 20 games while the Celtics are still talking about it. If the Celtics want to win this series, they are going to have to do a lot more than talk about playing defense.
The Heat's bench has been playing very well, especially Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright. The Celtics bench has been mostly inconsistent. Sheed and Quisy have both been disappointments. Nate has been up and down. Michael Finley has been a great pick up for them. The Celtics will need to get consistent play from their bench to match that of the Heat.
The Heat have one of the youngest coaches in the league in Erik Spoelstra. This is Spoelstra's 2nd season as head coach but in 7 seasons as an assistant for Miami, he was in charge of developing the game plan for playing each opponent and is known for his game preparation and attention to detail. Doc is in his 10th season as a head coach and has led his team to a championship.
The Celtics have been talking about being built for the playoffs and stepping it up once the playoffs arrived. It is time to put up or shut up. Or as Ernie, Kenny and Charles so aptly put it, win or go home. Keys to the GameDefense
The Celtics won their championship because of their tough team defense. However, we haven't seen nearly enough of it this season. The Heat have taken a page out of the Celtics book and have been playing very tough defense down the stretch. Defense is particularly important in the playoffs and the Celtics must pick up their defensive intensity if they want to win this series. Rebound
Rebounding also becomes more important in the playoffs. The Celtics need to crash the boards to prevent the Heat from getting second chance baskets and also to limit their fast break opportunities. The Celtics have been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league this season. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics must put out a bigger effort to beat Miami to rebounds.
Run the Offense
When the Celtics move the ball, make the extra pass and find the open man, the offense is on track. They have to avoid the do it myself mentality that they have reverted to in many games this season. They have to make up their minds to win as a team. It's time to bring ubuntu back.
Play 48 Minutes
The Celtics have to come out strong and keep the pressure on throughout the game. They have become famous for their second half let downs and lost leads this season. The Celtics can not let up even if they have a big lead because the Heat will take advantage of any let up. Slow Down D Wade
- Wade has averaged 33.7 points, 8.7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.3 blocks against the Celtics this season. The Celtics were able to beat them in all 3 meetings but they haven't played each other since February and since that time, Wade's supporting cast has upped their games and that makes it tough to beat them if they let Wade dominate. X-Factor
On fan appreciation night, Paul Pierce addressed the crowd and promised that the Celtics would defend their home court in the playoffs. For some reason, they have played better on the road than at home. They have to keep their focus at home and make teams fear playing them there again.