Round 2 Game5 Celtics at Heat 5/11

Boston Celtics (1-3) at Miami Heat (3-1)
Wednesday, May 11
7:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #9  Road Game #5
Radio:  WEEI, WAXY
American Airlines Arena  
Referees:  Scott Foster,  Ron Garretson,  Bill Spooner, (Zach Zarba, Alternate)

The Celtics are facing their first win or go home situation of the playoffs.  We have seen them play well with their backs against the wall in the past and they have come up big when they had to.  But does this team have enough left in the tank to pull off a historic come back in this series?   

Only 8 teams in NBA history have come back from a 1-3 deficit.  Two of those 8 teams wore Celtic green.   Both of those teams, the 1968 Celtics and the 1981 Celtics came back from a 1-3 deficit to win the title that year.   The 1968 Celtics had Bill Russell.  The 1981 Celtics had Larry Bird.  Can one of the current Celtics become part of Celtics lore to lead this team back from the brink of elimination to advance to the conference finals?  Only time will tell.  

The Celtics have several things going against them.  The newness of Jeff Green (and 4 others) -  The disappearing act of Glen Davis -  The injuries to Rajon Rondo (elbow), Delonte West (shoulder), Jermaine O'Neal (back), Shaquille O'Neal (calf/age) and Ray Allen (chest) - the aging process that has slowed Pierce, Garnett and Allen - and the one sided officiating in each game so far.  .  We can only hope that the Celtics can find some way to bounce back and overcome all of these obstacles that stand in their way.   

To win this game, the Celtics must defend the paint.  Wade and James and to a lesser degree Bosh have been getting to the hoop at will.  The Heat's 3 stars have been scoring the majority of the teams points and yet the Celtics can't seem to stop them.  The Celtics must get back to their clamp down defense, which they played in the game 3 win, but not so much in the 3 losses.  They also have to take better care of the ball.  Careless passes and unforced turnovers have cost them big in this series.  In the last game, the Celtics turned the ball over 15 times which the Heat turned into 25 points.  The Celtics have allowed the Heat to beat them on the boards, and they must reverse this if they hope to come back and win this. 

One thing we do know, this team has a lot of heart and pride.  They are going to fight in this game and if the Heat want to win it, they are going to have to fight even harder.    The odds are stacked against the Celtics but this team has beat the odds before and so don't be surprised if they do it again.  

Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Mike Bibby 

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen 16.6 PPG,  2.7 APG,  .445 3P%
Dwyane Wade  25.8 PPG, 4.5 APG,  .310 3P%

Small Forward
Paul Pierce  vs LeBron James

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett  vs Chris Bosh

Jermaine O'Neal  vs Joel Anthony

Boston Bench Mob
Jeff Green
Glen Davis
Delonte West
Nenad Krstic
Carlos Arroyo
Avery Bradley
Sasha Pavlovic 
Troy Murphy
Von Wafer
Shaquille O'Neal 

Shaquille O'Neal (calf/old age)  probable
Delonte West (shoulder)  probable
Rajon Rondo (elbow)  probable 
Ray Allen (chest)  will play
Jermaine O'Neal (back)  will play

Miami's Reserves
Mario Chalmers
Juwan Howard
Eddie House
Jamaal Magloire
Dexter Pittman
Mike Miller
James Jones
Eric Dampier
Joel Anthony
Udonis Haslem


Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh 
In game 3, KG was aggressive in going to the basket and demanding the ball.  He crashed the boards strong and his defense helped to keep Bosh from being effective on either end.  Not surprisingly, the Celtics won that game going away.  In game 4, we saw the opposite.  KG was tentative, settling for jumpers and scoring just 7 points on 1-10 shooting  to go with 10 rebounds.  Bosh was able to go for 20 points and 12 rebounds.  Again, not surprisingly, the Celtics lost.  This matchup is going to be key once again in game 5.  KG must be aggressive on offenseand look for his shot, driving to the hoop often.   He also needs to be aggressive on defense to limit Bosh's effectiveness in the game. 

Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
Pierce was able to limit James in game 3 but in game 4, James exploded for 35 points and 14 rebounds.  Green was brought in to give Pierce a rest but Pierce is still playing big minutes.  Doc needs to somehow get Pierce more rest so that he will have some legs left at the end of the game.   Green has played good defense on LeBron at times but has been inconsistent.  The Celtics need more from Green and they need the combination of Green and Pierce to limit LeBron while also playing well on the offensive end themselves. 

Rajon Rondo vs Mike Bibby
Rondo played game 4 with a big padded sleeve to protect his injured elbow.  His 5 assists tell the story of the effect that playing one handed had on his game.  When Rondo has double figures in assists, the Celtics have a good chance of winning.   The team as a whole had just 15 assists and that isn't Celtics ball.  They need Rondo to play and to play well if they hope to win this game. 

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Ray was held to just 15 points in game 3 as he struggled with foul trouble and the bruised chest as the result of LeBron's thuggery.  In game 4, he struggled again, mostly because of the Heat defense that didn't give him much space all game.  The Celtics need to move the ball more to get Ray open.  They also need to limit Wade who had 28 points in game 4. 

Defense -   Defense wins games and defense wins championships.  The Celtics upped their defensive intensity in game 3 and were able to  hold the Heat to 81 points shooting 42% from the field and 21% from beyond the arc.  In game 4, not so much as the Heat scored 98 points on 44% shooting.  The Celtics must play tough defense especially on the Heat's big 3, who seem to be doing most of the scoring for their team. 

Be Aggressive
-  The Celtics were the more aggressive team in game 3.  They were aggressive again in game 4 but the Heat were even more so.  The Celtics must be the more aggressive team and take the ball to the hoop, dive for loose balls, chase down rebounds and be aggressive on defense.   Usually the more aggressive team will get more calls from the refs but it hasn't worked that way for the Celtics.  They have to play aggressively without expecting calls when they are fouled.   

Rebound - The Celtics have to limit the Heat's second chance baskets and fast breaks by crashing the boards.  The amount of effort put into winning the rebound battle often follows through to the other areas of the game.  The rebounding was even at 39 each in game 1 but the Celtics were out rebounded 44-38 in game 2.  The rebounds were once again even at 39 in game 3.  And once again, in game 4,  the Celtics were out rebounded 44-28.  One of the biggest baskets in the game came on a tip in by Bosh.  The Celtics must box out and be aggressive in getting to the rebounds.

Limit Turnovers
The Heat are very good at turning turnovers in to fast break points.   The Celtics turned the ball over 15 times in game 4 and those turnovers led to 25 points for the Heat.  The Celtics must limit their turnovers and take better care of the ball. 

Ubuntu -  The Celtics must move the ball and find the open man.  Hero ball seldom wins games.  The Celtics have to play as a team and make the extra pass.  They have to play team defense and have each others' backs.   Ubuntu won this group their first title and they need to depend on it to win Banner 18, especially now that they are playing with their backs against the wall.  It's win or go home and so they have to lean on each other if they want to win. 

Official Report
Scott Foster
Playoff Games Officiated 7
Home Team Win Percentage 86%
# Fouls Called per Game 43.3
Percentage of Fouls on Road Team 53%
Technical Fouls per Game 1.7
Foster has officiated over 720+ regular season games and 25+ play-off games. Foster has 2 years officiating experience in the CBA. Prior to becoming an official, Foster modeled for department store mannequin mold makers. He came into the public eye as the best friend of former referee Tim Donaghy. In his book, Donaghy describes Foster as a very honest and good guy who knew nothing of his gambling. However, recently Donaghy described Foster as a company man who will do what is asked of him to keep his seniority among refs. Foster was also part of the Finals game 7 officiating crew that called the final quarter completely opposite of the first 3 quarters and called 21 fouls on the Celtics to just 6 on the Lakers. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Foster on the court. In the first 3 games the opponents shot 20 more free throws than the Celtics. In the 4th game, the Celtics shot 33 free throws to just 13 for the Pacers. The Heat are a perfect 6-0 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 with Foster as an official. His home W/L record this season is 48-29.

Ron Garretson
Playoff Games Officiated 7
Home Team Win Percentage 57%
# Fouls Called per Game 43.9
Percentage of Fouls on Road Team 52%
Technical Fouls per Game 0.7
In his 23 NBA seasons, since 1987, Garretson officiated over 1,600 games, including 1,397 regular season NBA games, 157 playoff games and 11 Finals games. He also officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. He is the son of former NBA referee Darell Garretson. Before joining the NBA as a referee, he spent two years officiating high school games in Arizona and two more in the Continental Basketball Association. One of the losses this season was the loss in Chicago where the Bulls shot 35 free throws to 22 for the Celtics. At one point just after the half, Derrick Rose alone had almost doubled the Celtics free throws as a team. Another loss was the Clippers game where the officiating was terrible both ways but the Clippers took 41 free throws to just 21 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 5-5 over their last 10 games and 3-3 this season with Garretson. The Heat are 5-2 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Garretson. Garretson is not affected by home crowds and is one of the few refs with more wins for the road team with a home W/L record this season is 36-40.

Bill Spooner
Playoff Games Officiated 6
Home Team Win Percentage 67%
# Fouls Called per Game 45.5
Percentage of Fouls on Road Team 52%
Technical Fouls per Game 0.9
Spooner has officiated over 1,000+ regular season games and 50+ play-off games. Spooner served as president of the high school referee association in 1982. Spooner is the ref who failed to call Kobe's elbow to the throat of Ron Artest 2 years ago in the playoffs, even though he was the ref in position to call it. Artest's complaints resulted in his ejection but nothing was called on Kobe in the game. The league later admitted their error and assessed Kobe a flagrant 1 for the elbow. But that didn't help Houston who had to play without Artest the rest of the game. The 2 Celtics games he officiated in last year's playoffs were one sided in favor of Miami and Cleveland. Spooner is the referee who filed suit against an Associated Press reporter after an incident in a game between the Timberwolves and Rockets. The reporter tweeted that Spooner told Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis he would “get it back” after making a bad call and then made “an even worse call on the Rockets. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Spooner officiating. The Heat are 3-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Spooner. His home W/L record is 40-29.

Injuries and Officiating
With so many Celtics battling injuries, that can't be counted out.  The Celtics have played with heart but only so much can be done by a one legged center or a one armed point guard.  How much these injuries limit the players will be key in how effective the Celtics can be.   The officiating has been in favor of the Heat  in all 4 games so far.  There have been ticky tack flagrant fouls called on the Celtics while the Heat have been able to tackle Celtics with no calls.   The Celtics shouldn't expect it to be any different in this game and need to be able to play through the bad calls and the no calls and the free throw advantage that is sure to go the Heat's way as it has in every game so far.