A six-game win streak, followed by a six-game losing streak. According to the pattern so far, we should be getting a win tomorrow. Right? RIGHT? Not making a strong case here.
Fact: The 2011/12 NBA champions have won 4 of their last 5 games. Their losses this year have come at the hands of dominant rebounding teams like Utah, Indiana, Chicago and Detroit.
Game time: 28 Jan 2013, 0500hrs AEDT (Zombie time for Aussies, I’m skipping this one.)
Watch on: NBA League Pass
1. Wilcox is cleared to play, but there is no confirmation on whether he will actually see court time.
2. Fab Melo is still not cleared for full contact practice after his recent concussion (walked into a doorway).
Where to begin? The Heat lose to rebounding teams because of their lineup size and coach Spoelstra’s focus on small ball. The Celtics unfortunately, are one of the worse teams in that category – even after adding our favourite rookie Sully into the equation. Beating the Heat on rebounds becomes once more a team effort thing more than having a double-digit rebounding monster like Larry Sanders.
The next focus: shutting down the three. The Indiana Pacers (Zach Lowe has an illuminating piece on Indy’s defense by the way) have been very good at killing the corner three, which is a staple item on the Heat’s offensive menu. Unsurprising, considering the plethora of shooters they have.
There’s a deeper braininess going on, too. Indiana has allowed only 4.1 corner 3 attempts per game, the second-lowest number in the league, and their opponents have hit a pathetic 27.7 percent on those enticing shorter 3s — the stingiest mark in the league by a mile. That number will regress to the mean a bit, but it’s also the product of Indy’s collective length and grasp of NBA math. Vogel and his staff work hard to make sure Indiana understands which shooters can be left with a bit of space, and which require close attention, help instincts be damned; the team calls the latter type “laser shooters.” And Vogel has another rule: “We never rotate to a 2-point jump-shooter off of a 3-point jump-shooter,” he says.
Chances of the C’s pulling off something similar tomorrow is unlikely, seeing as we are already thin on interior defense to limit dribble penetration. Without solid big men as shot blockers, help defense is going to happen, like it or not. I’m not saying Wilcox is the second Hakeem, but now would really be a good time for Wilcox to make his return – having an extra big on the roster would be a welcome sight.
Stopping LeBron would be something of a near-impossible feat unless Pierce manages a fantastic resurgence in form to 2007/08. I could be wrong, but after seeing Melo pretty much getting whatever he wanted on offense, I’m leaning towards the conclusion on Jeff Green not being a top notch wing defender.
While we are on defense, how about stopping transition offense and them easy buckets? Get back on defense, no Flying Death Machine highlight reels, how does that sound?
Notice I haven’t mentioned Ray at all until now. Honestly, while I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops a few threes for us, he’s not going to outdo Kyle Korver’s tsunami of three-destruction from the last game. So there you go, just one more deadly shooter in the corner. Move on folks, nothing to see here.
This is a tough pill to chew on. We all thought offense would be easier with the roster reloaded, and Rondo’s hitting his elbow jumpers with such confidence these days, surely it must have made things better? Sadly, the unfortunate (and hopefully temporary) demise of the Captain’s offense has made things really difficult. Combine this with good old Bass turning invisible, our starter scoring has taken a definite turn for the worse.
I’m laying my bets on Rondo, who is at the moment our most reliable offensive cog. He will have to have a big night for us to have a fighting chance. Big means something in the range of 25 to 30 points along with his usual 10 assists, we need scoring, heaps of it. Drives to the basket, Heat defenders daring him to shoot while he nails that jumper relentlessly? I’m all for it.
The bench needs to be shaken loose as well. Cut Barbosa loose, unleash him and let him get to work on the Heat guards. Let Lee continue his excellent form, and let us hope for Jeff Green to have a dunktastic game as well. I’m not picky, give me a poster of any Heat player and I’m a happy man.
But honestly? No lousy turnovers please, we cannot afford sloppy mistakes against the Heat. Get an open shot. Or better yet, get an open driving lane. GET. INSIDE.
I am definitely not an optimistic fan at this point. That being said, we still have to fight and try our darndest to get the win. Please, no more embarrassing losses. Show the world what the Celtics are capable of, and get some good old defense rocking once more.