I think we all understand what is at stake tonight and how important this Game 2 is. But if you're a numbers guy and you need to see the data, here's all you need to know.
Teams that go up 2-0 are 414-33 all time. In the Conference Finals, that team is 56-6. In the 2-2-1-1-1 format, when the home team loses the first two games, there have only been 4 times in NBA history when that team has won the series. You may remember the 2017 Celtics did it, but deep down I think we all know if Rondo didn't get hurt in that series things probably go differently.
Even with the Celts being legit on the road, being down 0-2 and heading to MIA where the Heat have not lost this postseason is certainly a tall task, so I'm not sure I'm being overly dramatic when I say the Celts season is essentially on the line tonight. You need to walk out of the Garden 1-1. You have to.
It wasn't too long ago the Celts found themselves in this exact position. Dropping Game 1 against the Sixers, Harden going off for 40+, they needed to punch back. We then witnessed a 121-87 ass kicking. It's not a question of "if" the Celts can respond, but it is important that they don't fall into the mindset of just because they did it before it will automatically happen again. Let's be very clear about something heading into Game 2
Jimmy Butler is not Joel Embiid or James Harden. The Miami Heat are not the Sixers. Spo is not Doc.
After the game and then during their media session yesterday, the players are saying all the right things, and that's cool I guess. But in the playoffs, talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Before Game 1 we were told that no matter what, the Heat would not be the tougher more physical team. Well…
The Heat turned up the physcality in the second half and the Celts folded.
So while it's great to hear all the cliche sayings ahead of Game 2, none of that matters if we're going to get more shit like this
It's simple. Don't talk about it, be about it. I sure as shit know that's what the Heat do.
Take that video above. Does that look like a team that is locked in? I'm still not sure that was even really Rob and not Pat Riley who somehow found a way to take over his body. I have NEVER seen Rob play defense (or not play really) like that. The way this team was lazy at fighting through screens all night which forced guys to overhelp resulting in open Heat shooters, there's a reason the Heat scored 123 points. We did not see the level of intensity anywhere close to good enough. I stumbled across this thread yesterday and it's legitimately insulting how poor the Celts were
I mean what the hell even was that? I'll tell you what. Some of the dumbest, laziest basketball the Celts have played this entire season.
The good news is, everything you just watched in that thread is correctable. The hope is that in tonight's Game 2, we don't see anything close to that type of play, because if we do, the Celts will fall to 0-2.
So what type of adjustments should we expect to see tonight? Aside from the normal shit like actually play defense, rebound, and don't turn the ball over a billion times, there are some things I'd like to see Joe adjust
1. Get back to the proper 3PA volume
There are some that love to cry about the Celts 3PA volume, but the facts are the facts. In today's NBA, you need to be able to keep pace from behind the arc. It did not matter one bit that the Celts feasted in the paint (62 points) or lived at the line (29 FTA). You know why? Because they were not themselves when it came to their 3PA volume.
This team only taking 29 3PA is a problem. I'm not saying they need to take bad threes, but they need to take a hell of a lot more than 29. Think back to Game 1 and 2 vs PHI. In Game 1, the Celts had 66 points in the paint, 18 FTA and lost. Why?
Because the Sixers went 17-38 from deep compared to 10-26 for the Celts. In Game 2, the Celts got back to themselves, went 20-51, and blew doors.
That seems pretty familiar right? Trading 2s for 3s is not going to cut it. So far, the team with more 3PM has won something like 85% of the games. Game 1 was the 2nd fewest 3PA game of the Celts entire playoff run. That needs to change.
2. Be quick with the double big lineup
I get why Joe rolled with this lineup given how successful it was against the Sixers, but I do think he needs to be careful with it in this series. Remember, last year vs MIA the double bigs had a 100 Ortg / 115 Drtg / -15 net. In Game 1, it was 88 / 144 / -55.
Their best lineups from that game used 1 big. If you go that route it means the Celts will need to gang rebound, but there's also another option.
He had a solid series last year (41/38%, +6). He can help you defensively and on the boards. He can help stretch the floor so there's still shooting out there. To me this is the easiest and most obvious Game 2 adjustment. Grant needs to play. Maybe lighten Al's minutes because his legs are clearly shot offensively, but tonight Grant needs 15+ minutes I think. I wouldn't even be against maybe spot starting him to be honest. That's sort of a weird hybrid double big lineup that might work.
3. Enough of the soft switching bullshit
Just watch that thread again. The repeated soft switching and lazy effort on that end cannot happen. Either fight over the screen or go under it and make Butler beat you with jumpers. But allowing him to get whatever matchup he wants (usually Brogdon) whenever he wants with no resistance is not going to work. It's a death wish.
4. Use your point guards
This was maybe the most frustrating part of the second half/fourth quarter. I know this team loves to just give the ball to the Jays late and let them initiate offense, and I am now begging Joe and the players to remember they have point guards on this team. I don't really understand how you can look so good offensively playing through your point guard in the first half, and not do it in the most important parts of the game.
Now, it's going to be important that whoever the point guard is on the floor during these moments that they remember Jayson Tatum exists and don't ice him out for 15 minutes, but to me that's what happens when the wrong people are initiating the offense. The same exact issues we saw in last year's ECF late crept up in Game 1 because the Celts went back to doing that same shit.
Your point guards are good. Use them.
For a team where the only thing you can trust is that they will always find a way to take the harder path, it is now on them to respond. They made their bed, now do something about it. You know Butler is going to be out for blood, so let's see how the Celts handle what is now the biggest game of their season. They have the talent to do it, but that talent is going to have to show up and then some, on both ends.