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Danny

HEAT at Celtics Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Jim Rogash)

The Miami HEAT take on the Boston Celtics Sunday at TD Garden. The HEAT lead the Eastern Conference while the Celtics are in eighth. The Eastern Conference Finals rematch tips off at 1 PM. The last time the HEAT were in Boston, LeBron James exploded for 45 points and 15 rebounds

1. What is ailing the sub-.500 Boston Celtics?

Couper Moorhead: The same thing that hurt them last season and the same thing that is hurting the Memphis Grizzlies: one of the league’s best defenses just can’t put together enough consistent offense to sustain itself. Danny Ainge added a ton of shooters in the offseason to make up for losing Ray Allen, but among rotation players only Jason Terry is shooting over 36 percent from three. As well as Kevin Garnett can space the floor, defenses are routinely able to pack the paint, which in turn is hindering Rajon Rondo’s ability to penetrate and create shots. The defense is still incredible whenever Garnett is on the court, and Avery Bradley only helps in that respect, but eventually they are going to need someone to be a more consistent three-point threat.

Danny Martinez: The last few seasons, the Celtics have been able to stay afloat by playing elite defense that covered for below average offense. This season, the offense is 24th in the NBA, but the defense is just 10th. The slip in defense has caused them problems because the offense doesn’t score efficiently. Also, the Celtics have had to work in new pieces.

2. It seems like every year around this time there are fans around the nation clamoring for the Celtics to make a move. Do you agree with them?

Couper: If Ainge made a deal every time his fanbase asked for it, the Celtics would probably be short one trip the NBA Finals and another to the Eastern Conference Finals. Because Boston doesn’t have the offensive firepower they can turn in some tough-watching games during the regular season, but they aren’t all that different from any other team that knows how important it is to be healthy and rested for the playoffs. You have to make the playoffs, of course, but this team has proved time and time again that their defense gives them a chance in any series. You just don’t toss that type of opportunity, however narrow it may get as the team ages, out the window until you have to. Because once Ainge starts making deals, he will be making them for a new future, not a better present.

Danny: It’s a really tough call. The Celtics are kind of stuck this season, locked into the eighth seed unless something funky happens. The Celtics are a better playoff team than regular season team largely due to minute distribution. If they can find a way to get the sixth seed, they may be able to steal a first round upset. Is there a move out there that can do that? I don’t know. If there is, I’m not sure it’d be worth it for the long-term future of the organization. The Celtics management has to determine whether or not this group can make a serious run, and that answer isn’t exactly obvious right now.

3. Do you expect Ray Allen to be cheered?

Couper: I’ve gone back and forth on this, but in the end I expect the majority of Boston fans will stand up and cheer. You’re always going to have some folks that go to a game like this with the sole intent of booing a supposed ‘traitor’, but most of those in attendance should appreciate what Allen did for them over the years. And knowing Boston, you would expect the vocal minority – the boo birds – to be shot down by their fellow fans.

Danny: No, but I hope he is. It often takes fans a while to adjust to a former player in a new jersey. It’s just been a few months and the Celtics are struggling. There’s some frustration and that’s understandable. The fact remains that Ray Allen helped bring the Celtics their first championship in over two decades. His contributions should be applauded. Whether it happens today or at a later date remains to be seen.

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Hopefully Jesus goes off. I would love for him to rain down 3's while the Boston crowds boos him.

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Ray Allen's return, they'll make an effort to get him the ball. And he'll show them what they're missing. I can't wait for this matchup, the Celtics are struggling and are gonna want this game. Doc will have them ready for tomorrow and the crowd will be a good one!

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It's funny to think that we might face Boston in the 1st round this year based on the current standings. Would be a pretty intense start to the playoffs.

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For this game, Heat's got to be extra careful.... Remember the saying that " "There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal." And right now, Celtics is undergoing a long string of losses and it will definitely not want the Heat to deliver another serious blow.

Let's all hope that Allen will shine more in this situation. Let's Go Heat!!!

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It's time to bury the Boston Relics once and for all

============

ugh gotta wake up at 5am to watch this game

hahaha good for u

I got to sleep now so i can watch this game 2 AM <_<

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ugh gotta wake up at 5am to watch this game

I got to sleep now so i can watch this game 2 AM <_<

For me the game starts 7 PM, so it's purrfect ;)

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The Celtics are thirsty for a win after losing 6 straight, so expect them to come out ready for battle. MIAMI must play efficient basketball on both ends of the court, as well as attack Boston for four quarters in order to thwart any hope that Boston may have of winning this game. I'd love it if MIAMI could rest it's starters in the fourth and allow JESUS SHUTTLESWORTH to close the Celtics out with a performance that'll leave Danny Ainge questioning his decision to let RAYRAY go. Defend,dominate,destroy...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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Almost game time! Hope Wade can keep this hot streak going. Funny how Wade's effectiveness has started to make LeBron's life a lot easier. Hope that trend continues since the Celtics don't have any good way of stopping Wade.

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Yo, they should really do that very often. Barbosa can't do anything against Wade in the post. And Wade easily finds the open man, if the double team comes.

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Of course Barbosa's scrub *** would have the best game since he played us last time.

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      Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman
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      Highlights:
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      Couper Moorhead: Until the road trip and long minutes appeared to take a toll of the team down the stretch, Miami’s offense had continued to be full of energy and movement as Goran Dragic led the way through drive after drive after drive into the paint. And when Dragic didn’t have the ball in his hands, it was Josh McRoberts running the point for stretches or Hassan Whiteside finding deep position in the paint (where he was incredibly efficient) or Wayne Ellington running off screens. The offense wasn’t perfect, but it kept things moving and all the little things the HEAT have added to their scoring diet in the past week should help them build a more complete approach as players return from injury.
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      Joe: The Knicks have improved on the offensive end thus far thanks to the additions of Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings. While Jennings provides a spark off the bench for New York, both Rose and Lee have been producing well in the staring lineup. In the case of Rose, the 28-year-old is averaging 19.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game on 46.8 percent shooting in his last ten. He’s also been getting to the free throw line at a higher rate during that time frame. We all know what Rose is capable of when healthy, and he seems to be in a good place right now. Thanks in part to the playmaking point guard, the Knicks have won three straight and are two games over .500 for the first time this season.
      3: How do you think Miami will defensively handle New York’s leading scorers in Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis?
      Couper: To answer this we must first discuss Miami’s injury situation. James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters have all been ruled out for the game. Josh Richardson and Luke Babbitt are both doubtful. So Miami will be shorthanded in general but could also be missing a chunk of its non-center size, meaning anyone other than Derrick Williams could potentially be giving up both inches and pounds to the 6-foot-8 Anthony. Miami still has a ton of gritty defenders, but if Anthony has a size advantage in the post it will take a disciplined array of help defenders to keep him away from the rim.
      As for Porzingis, you could see some cross-matching between him and Whiteside. Miami could want Whiteside to get Porzingis switched on to him so Whiteside can get good position in the post, but by the same token asking Whiteside to chase the Knicks’ high-volume shooter feet beyond the three-point line is quite the task for a full game. The guess would be that Whiteside starts the game defending Noah or Kyle O’Quinn, depending on who is in the lineup, and then we see the Whiteside-Porzingis matchup later in the game when New York goes small with Anthony at the four spot.
      Joe: As Coup mentioned above, things will be tough without James Johnson, Justise Winslow or Dion Waiters. Last season, we were treated to great matchups between Winslow and Carmelo Anthony, but unfortunately that won’t be the case this time around. Even though McGruder is giving up a bunch of size, perhaps we’ll see him defending Anthony on the perimeter at certain points in the game. Otherwise, we could see Derrick Williams or Josh McRoberts on Anthony from time to time.
      Kristaps Porzingis, meanwhile, has really taken a leap forward in his sophomore season. The 21-year-old has upped his production in nearly every facet, with the biggest jumps coming in points per game and field goal percentage. McRoberts will likely start on the talented big unless Miami wants to cross-match like Coup stated above. Regardless of who guards Porzingis, they will have to give him no space on the perimeter since nearly 43 percent of his shots come off catch-and-shoot opportunities. Again, it’ll be tough, but we’ll see how it all pans out on Tuesday night. 

      Highlights:
      February 28-HEAT at Knicks
      January 6-Knicks at HEAT
      Game Notes:
      The HEAT have won two of three and are 7-13. The Knicks have won three straight and stand at 11-9. Hassan Whiteside leads Miami in points (17.8), rebounds (14.9) and blocks (2.6) per game. Carmelo Anthony leads New York in scoring at 22.5 points per contest.  
      Efficiencies (Rank):
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