Saturday, April 17, 2010

Heat Versus Celtics: What to Watch

April 17, 2010

November 29th, 2009, the Boston Celtics head to Miami and defeat the Heat 92-85. January 6th, 2010, the Celtics head back to South Florida and escape with another victory in a 112-106 overtime thriller. February 3rd, 2010, the Heat travel to Boston and fall to the Celtics for the third consecutive time to the tune of 107-102.

Who cares? The Miami Heat surely don't.

It's about the playoffs now. In the eyes of Coach Erik Spoelstra and his players, the focus is now.

Dwelling on the past will only help Miami excel in the present through their game tape sessions. The outcomes of those games are meaningless.

Hence, we look at the future and what the 2010 playoffs have in store for the Heat. Here are a few noteworthy factors to take into account going into the Heat-Celtics series:
  • The Heat are 19-2 when Dwyane Wade scores 30+ points in the postseason, including a perfect 11-0 at home. In other words, give Wade the ball and good things will happen.
  • Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem have reached the playoffs in six of their last seven seasons at members of the Miami Heat. Playoff-tested is an understatement. 
  • Miami finished 27-2 when holding opponents under 90 points. Unfortunately, Boston scored over 90 points in all three match-ups against Miami this season.
  • The Heat finished the season ranked second in the league in average points allowed (94.2) and opponents' field goal percentage (43.9%). Boston averaged 99.2 points per game this season.
  • Boston and Miami have never faced eachother in the postseason, making this the first ever playoff series between the two. 
While the idea of Miami advancing past the first round may seem unlikely, momentum is actually in their favor. Miami ended the season winning 12 of their last 13 games while Boston posted a 3-7 record in their final 10 games of the season.

Role players like Quentin Richardson, Dorell Wright and Carlos Arroyo all improved in the final stretch of the regular season. Richardson had at least one three pointer in the final seven games of the season, averaging 14.1 points in that stretch. Wright has also produced from behind the arc, averaging 1.8 three-pointers per game and 11.8 points per game in the month of April. Arroyo dished out 3.5 assists and logged double-digit points in four of the seven games in April.

On the contrary, an injury-plagued Kevin Garnett, an aging Ray Allen, and a regressed Paul Pierce are making the once-formidable "Big Three" look less than dominant. But Rajon Rondo is the key to their ignition, and perhaps the key to this series. If Miami can contain him, which they've struggled to do in the past, they will stunt Boston's full potential. Otherwise, the Heat could be facing an early 2-0 deficit heading back to Miami.

With that said, Miami will still have a chance at upseting the favored Celtics with a consistent collective effort sprinkled with some D. Wade magic.

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