By Matt Noonan
It all comes down to one game and one game only, Game 5 between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
This isn’t the NBA Finals or the game that will decide who gets to keep all the marbles, but instead, it’s that game, the one that will decide if the Heat will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since ‘06 or head back to the TD Garden for Game 6.
Deep down, LeBron James knows this is his game to win, although, he and his teammates know this one won’t be easy. The Heat labeled the Celtics “champions” prior to the first game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
So, they gave Boston a leg up, but did Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen embrace their opponent’s compliment? Probably not, but instead, took the court to conduct their business, but unfortunately, the age factor has caught up to them, as they are starring at a 3-1 series lead that favors Miami.
Shaquille O’Neal will most likely not play on Wednesday, as he aggravated his calf in Game 4; so don’t expect the Big Shamrock to lead Boston to victory. Rajon Rondo has a dislocated left elbow and Delonte West is beat up. Glen Davis is still attempting to find “himself” while Jeff Green continues to struggle.
Alright, let’s admit it, the Celtics are not who we thought they were, but instead, a group of athletes that are washed up, tired and ready to call it quits.
Really, how much gas is left in their tank? Do they have any drive left? What will it take for Boston to win?
A few ideas on how the Celtics can climb back into the series:
*Well, as I have mentioned previously, it all starts with defense. The old men struggle when it comes to chasing James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh around the court. In fact, James Jones and Mario Chalmers have run circles around the men dressed in Green and White too, which isn’t a lot of fun for Doc Rivers to watch. The Celtics defense needs to contain the Heat on offense, limit them to one shot, but also, secure rebounds too. Miami has taken advantage of Boston’s defense that doesn’t have a true center to snag offensive boards.
*In Game 4, the Celtics did not run their offense quite well, especially in the fourth quarter. The Celtics of old used to swing the ball around the perimeter to set up easy two-hand jams or two-pointers. The game of basketball has and will always be won in the paint, so watch for Boston to utilize Garnett, Davis and possibly, Jermaine O’Neal.
*Another thing the Celtics have to do is rebound. Miami has destroyed them on the boards, both on offense and defense, so the biggest thing they need to do is box-out their opponent.
* Also, can Rondo actually listen to Doc Rivers? It seems that according to sources, Rondo has decided to run the offense his own way at times and has totally ignored what Rivers draws up during timeouts. Perhaps Rondo can listen to Rivers, especially in a win-or-go home contest?
Game 5 will be played, but now the question is can the Celtics force a Game 6 in Boston? That question will be answered soon.