Celtics Hoping for Road Success heading to Miami

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Boston Celtics (2-0) at Miami Heat (0-2)
Round 1 Game #3 – Road Game #1
Friday, April 23, 2010
7:00 PM ET
AmericanAirlines Arena 
Referees:  Bennett Salvatore, Eric Lewis, Bill Spooner 
The Celtics responded to the taunts of Quentin Richardson and the suspension of KG with one of their best games of the season. Hopefully that incident awoke the sleeping giant and that will carry over into this game. They have won games 1 and 2 with very tough team defense and they need to continue to play that same type of lock down defense on the road.

The Celtics were one of the best road teams in the regular season, just one game behind the Cavs for the best road record. Whatever focus they found on the road in the regular season, they need to call on now as American Airlines Arena is certain to be a very hostile environment after the fight in game 1 and the blow out in game 2.

KG should be rested. Big Baby should have added confidence that will hopefully carry over to a role on the bench. Perk played incredible defense on O'Neal and also was instrumental in the ball movement that was key to the Celtics 44-8 run that blew open the game. Perk tends to be more passive when KG is playing but the Celtics need him to stay aggressive and complement KG rather than take a back seat to him.

The Celtics need to try to win this game because game 4 is an afternoon game and their track record isn't all that great in matinee games. A sweep would be nice, but going back to Boston up 3-1 wouldn't be bad either. The Celtics have the Heat on the run and they need to keep their momentum going and not give them any reason to think they can win.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
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Rajon Rondo 13.7 PPG 9.8 APG 2.3 SPG
Carlos Arroyo 6.1 PPG 3.1 APG 0.5 SPG

Shooting Guard
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Ray Allen 16.3 PPG 2.6 APG .363 3P%
Dwyane Wade 26.6 PPG 6.5 APG .300 3P%

Small Forward
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Paul Pierce 18.3 PPG 4.4 RPG 3.1 APG
Quintin Richardson 8.9 PPG 4.9 RPG 1.2 APG

Power Forward
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Kevin Garnett 14.3 PPG 7.3 RPG 0.8 BPG
Michael Beasley 14.8 PPG 6.4 RPG 0.6 BPG

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Kendrick Perkins 10.1 PPG 7.6 RPG 1.7 BPG
Jermaine O'Neal 13.6 PPG 6.9 RPG 1.4 BPG

Key Matchups
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Kevin Garnett vs Michael Beasley
Kevin Garnett should be back and raring to go for this game after missing the last game and having a nice long rest. Michael Beasley has struggled so far against both KG and Big Baby and they need to continue to keep him off balance while taking it to him on offense.

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Rajon Rondo vs Carlos Arroyo
The Celtics have their biggest advantage at the PG spot. Rondo has shown that he can out play Arroyo and has been able to hit big shots and get into the paint at will. Rondo needs to continue his aggressive play in game 3 and exploit this matchup.

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen/Tony Allen vs Dwyane Wade
After doing very little in the first game, Ray Allen got hot in game 2 and scored 25 points. The Celtics need Ray to stay hot and to keep Wade chasing him through multiple screens, which takes away from his own offensive game. If Wade starts to get hot, expect Doc to call on Tony to once again try to slow him down.

Players to Watch
Big Baby was the Ticket Stub in game 2 and was key to the win in that game. The question in this game will be can he produce like that in a role off the bench. If he can, the Celtics will have a very good chance of winning this game.

Doc called Perk the best player on the Celtics in game 2 and the +/- numbers for the game bear that out as Perk had a team best +41. Hopefully Perk will continue to be as aggressive in this game and not try to defer to KG too much. An aggressive Perk next to an aggressive KG is a very scary frontcourt.

Dwyane Wade hasn't been able to take over in either game 1 or 2. Back in his house, he will be looking to be more aggressive and will try to get to the basket and draw fouls and the Celtics need to be ready for his extra aggressiveness.

Michael Beasley
Even if Wade steps up his game, the Heat can't win unless his supporting cast steps up as well. The player with the most potential to do so is Michael Beasley. He has been frustrated by the Celtics bigs in spite of assuring Heat fans that he would be a more aggressive player in game 2. He will look to get on track early and KG and Perk need to defend him well to keep him from getting any confidence.

Keys to the Game
Defense The Celtics won the first two games with tough lock down defense. Now that they have found their defensive focus they need to continue to lock down the other team and not give them any breathing room. If they try to outscore the Heat, they won't win. Defense wins games and wins championships and the Celtics must continue to play the tough team defense that we saw down the stretch in game 1 and throughout game 2.

Rebound The Celtics were out rebounded 40-37 in game 1. They came back in game two and out rebounded the heat by 17. The whole team must make rebounding a priority as winning the rebounding battle is crucial to winning the game and the series.

Play 48 Minutes The Celtics have to come out strong and keep the pressure on throughout the game. They can't allow the Heat to see light at the end of the tunnel and think that they can get a win. They need to hustle from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Ball Movement The Celtics have to keep the ball moving and make the extra pass to find the open man. When the ball sticks and the movement slows, that is when the Celtics struggle with their offense. When they make that extra pass, Miami has a hard time stopping them and the offense runs like a well oiled machine.

Don't Get Over Confident The Celtics have just won their home games and there is a long way to go in this series. If they get over confident and feel like they have this series won already, they could be in for a surprise. They have to come out focused and play like they are behind in the series. Don't give the Heat any reason to think they can win this series.

Over Confidence and South Beach
The Celtics have the Heat reeling after the blowout in game 2. But the Heat is still a dangerous team that won 18 of their last 20 games. The Celtics can't afford to take them for granted or get over confident. They need to come out as if they haven't won a thing and focus in spite of the hostile crowd that is sure to greet them in Miami. And speaking of Miami, if the Celtics really want to win it all, they would do well to avoid the distraction of South Beach and keep their focus on the game and on winning.

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