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Danny

Miami HEAT at Boston Celtics Official Game Thread and Preview

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670_heatcelticspre_130318.jpg

(Photo Credit: ESPN)

The Miami HEAT battle the Boston Celtics tonight at TD Garden on the second night of a back-to-back. The HEAT look to win their 23rd straight game, which would give them the second longest streak in NBA history. Tip off is set for 8 PM; coverage starts on Sun Sports at 7:30 PM.

1: The Celtics have won seven of their last ten. How have they changed without Rajon Rondo?

Couper Moorhead: Boston has probably changed less than people think without Rondo. The team has been given credit for improving its ball movement since Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, but their assist rates per 100 possessions have hardly changed at all while the Celtics are still just as reliant on the mid-range jumper as they were with Rondo. That’s not to say there haven’t been improvements anywhere, as the team is getting more corner three attempts, but most likely the main cause for better offensive and defensive efficiency has been the team simply playing better while moving the ball enough to make up for Rondo’s absence. Sometimes, especially on defense, you can improve significantly by playing harder for longer.

Danny Martinez: Since the Rondo injury, the Celtics have seen a small uptick in their offense, but an even bigger jump in their defense. Many thought that the Rondo injury would significantly hinder the Celtics’ offense, but the reality is that the offense had nowhere to go but up. The everyday Rondo isn’t the one we saw score 44 points against the HEAT in last season’s playoffs. The Celtics relied on mid-range jump shots before the injury and they still do after the injury. The defensive improvement is the bigger deal, and it’s probably been the result of a higher sustained energy level. The Celtics have a stout defensive system and it took some time for them to round into top form. Rondo’s injury might have spurred that, but it was going to happen at some point.

2: Should we take much from this game if Kevin Garnett (50/50 to play) doesn’t go?

Couper: If Kevin Garnett doesn’t play, this game is effectively meaningless – the most important thing that would come out of it would be simply if Miami’s extends its 22-game winning streak or not. If Garnett does play, we could get a decent sense for how the Celtics will attack the HEAT on one end – can they hit Garnett with over-the-top passes that take advantage of the HEAT’s defensive holes the way Rondo would – and whether or not the lack of Rondo’s defensive playmaking and/or gambling makes Boston a more effective though possibly less dynamic defensive team. Garnett playing gives us a shot at finding some answers. Garnett’s absence renders the questions useless.

Danny: Not really. Garnett is such a huge part of what the Celtics do that his absence would render the contest useless in terms of predictive value. Garnett is the defensive anchor for the Celtics and his on/off court data the last few seasons has been astounding. While some may have thought that Rondo was the most important player on the Celtics, it’s probably clear now that the distinction belongs to Garnett. The game still has meaning, especially considering the streak that the HEAT are on, but it’s not the same longterm without Garnett.

3: Is our perspective of the Miami-Boston rivalry a little skewed these days given how many different lineups each team has had in the past year?

Couper: There has been so little consistency in Miami-Boston games in the past year that it is difficult to put much emphasis on any game, regular season or playoffs. Chris Bosh was either gone or slowly coming back from injury for most of the seven-game Eastern Conference Finals, then Ray Allen changes teams, then Boston is trying to introduce a slew of new perimeter players, then Boston loses Rajon Rondo – it’s still an incredibly fun (and true) rivalry, but don’t read too much into the results when the process, on either side, is constantly being tinkered with.

Danny: It’s kind of crazy how the Celtics and HEAT keep matching up without full rosters. Going back to last season, it feels as if a key player has missed time in almost every game. It hasn’t made the games or the rivalry less intense, but it does make it tough to gauge where each team is. One thing that has been clear is that neither team will back down and it’s led to some great, great games.

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I wonder if LEBRON will bring that game 6 intensity? This will not be an easy task, yet I'm hoping MIAMI will steamroll these guys. If MIAMI shooters remains hot and the defense stays stingy, the HEAT should prevail, but MIAMI is gonna have to play for 4 qtrs. I expect MIAMI to get that 23rd to take sole possession of that 2nd spot. Go get it...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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Rondo less Celtics is more dangerous due to everyone can shoot and no more ball hogging

Cant wait the show-down of 2 teams with legit small ball

Bosh just needs to outclass KG in order to seal this thing

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5 years ago to this day the Celtics beat Houston to end their 22 game winning streak. That's some weird stuff right there.

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That pic; my favorite moment as evidenced in my avatar haha. Normally I like beating teams at full strength but since this streak is a once in a lifetime deal, I wouldn't mind KG missing the game. You can bet that the guys aren't going to let them off the hook like last time KG or not.

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Heat will be on a mission tonight with all that trash talking PP was doin! Boston and their fans HATE the Heat (look on their fan blogs) and they seem nervous to me. Win or lose, what a journey our guys have been on! This regular season game won't prove anything in the grand scheme. No one is catching us in the East!

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This is just gonna be a low scoring defensive scheme but the offense belongs to Miami. no bother. I watch these pops battle Tanda' and they're getting stops but couldn't buy a freaking bucket. Their shooters are not hot only terry hit a couple.Check punk haters. Show them these pops won't score much on the championship defensive team the Heat's caliber. Like we did in front of chicago.

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The Celtics are scary. Only because they are so unpredictable because of their constant change in effort depending on what game they are playing. I don't really think they stand a chance against us if both teams play their hardest. I do believe the Heat want to make this streak something incredible and put their stamp on this season doing something special in the regular season and post season. We should win this game if we come to play. Great Defense vs. Elite Defense and Offense vs. Elite Offense. Hmmm yeah go heat

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This is just gonna be a low scoring defensive scheme but the offense belongs to Miami. no bother. I watch these pops battle Tanda' and they're getting stops but couldn't buy a freaking bucket. Their shooters are not hot only terry hit a couple.Check punk haters. Show them these pops won't score much on the championship defensive team the Heat's caliber. Like we did in front of chicago.

Dig your style, dawg

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LBJ will come to play so I think this will nullify Pierce. In a strange way its going to be Avery Bradley who will be the key to this game, he dogs our guards like no one else and their handle and rhythym gets thrown off. I can never forget how he embarrased DWade last year when he was not 100% healthy...if i know Dwade he will be special tonight (25, 7, 6, 2) he has a very good memory, Bosh has been lights out 16 pts 8 rebs from him tonight is what we need. Finally Norris Cole needs to be like fly on s*^& on avery and disrupt thier offense get him tired make him work like a dog. Defenders hate being given their own medicine. 3 threes form Ray and 3 from Battier...MIA wins 103-94.

Its not about them its about us, if Miami doesn't beat themselves they win

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They hate us so much and of course they want to break our winning streak, every time they play us, they got old memories when they were called the "Big 3" that's why they will play with high intensity from the start to the end.

LETS GO HEAT

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"your style" I'm cool. What's your style, afro.

He is more viking than afro Bro :P:D:P

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91992920130318194505.jpg

Sorry for the quality of that pic but Birdman makes me laugh. What do you think about the style of Jesus Shuttlesworth ? Does he wear a green top to troll the C's ?

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"if LEBRON bring that game 6 intensity", took 23 or so shots for 45 points. Right now you want him to hit timely oportunity shots. He seem to play with the team and more to the flow of offense. That's what you want with unselfishness but not too unselfish. Take few shots make most if not all then take advantage when on fire, get to the line rebound set people off traps, do everything.

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Heat should blow em out to keep Terrys blabbering mouth shut for a bit.

Even dead, he will speak how he hates the heat to the Devil himself

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"your style" I'm cool. What's your style, afro.

"more viking than afro" from sweden though. may be viking afro.

Apparently, you've never heard of Jules Winnfield. Nonetheless, I found your way of writing funny. If "Viking Afro" is all you got, I'm disappointed..

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Apparently, you've never heard of Jules Winnfield. Nonetheless, I found your way of writing funny. If "Viking Afro" is all you got, I'm disappointed..

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    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman
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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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