Heat vs Celtics: Should the Heat and Celtics play more closely as the Eastern Conference finals shift to Boston after a pair of blowout losses?
In two games of the Eastern Conference finals, the teams have clobbered one other. The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat are close enough to earn a Last Two Minutes report. So, keep an eye on this page and be updated. It would be nice if the on-court action were close to the series (1-1). These huge scoreboard swings — the Heat lead by 20 in Game 1 and the Celtics by 34 in Game 2. They are excellent for knee-jerk overreactions. Still, the reality and substance of the competition between these teams probably reside somewhere in the middle, as with most things.
These are the 4 things to watch for Heat vs Celtics in game 3
It’s Bam Adebayo, not Jimmy Butler
After Miami’s Game 2 battles, Jimmy Butler fell on his sword, blaming himself. Butler hasn’t done much in the series so far while disregarding what he has.
Butler, who has scored 41 and 29 points in the two games. “I believe I became a little selfish on the offensive end.” While making a total of 23 of 37 shots, he said. “I need to figure out how to use my teammates.” They’ve been there for me all year, and I need to return their kindness. We are a lot better squad because they are aggressive whenever they score.”
Butler wants to do a better job combining his scoring. And passing responsibilities now that point guard Kyle Lowry is out. But having an active, aggressive target for such passes would be ideal. If Miami center Bam Adebayo could step up, it would be great. We all remember Adebayo from the Heat’s playoff run in 2020. We remember his work against Boston, especially at this time. He was also Miami’s top player in the conference finals. He led the Celtics with 21.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 60.8 percent shooting. Adebayo, who played so much at the rim and in the paint, was a breakout star at 23. Since then, he’s been a contender for Kia Defensive Player of the Year. And a key to his team’s success on both sides of the court.
Eastern Conference finals
But in the playoffs, he’s averaging 13.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. That compared to 19.1 and 10.1 in the regular season. He went from taking 13 shots per game back then to just taking 8.2 throughout the two games versus Boston. In 66 minutes, Adebayo had 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting. One of the current distinctions is Boston’s frontcourt, which provides issues for Miami’s big man. Daniel Theis and Jaylen Brown were the Celtics’ center and power forward, respectively, two years ago when they were in the bubble. Adebayo is now up against a more challenging, stingier Boston defense, including Robert Williams III, Al Horford, and several backups.
When it comes to when and where the ball ends up in Adebayo’s hands, he may miss Lowry more than some of his teammates. But it’s up to him to find his shooting and create chances off the glass. Also, he’s averaging 1.6 offensive rebounds this postseason, down from 3.5 last year and 2.5 in the playoffs.
Marcus Smart as the Boston’s difference-maker
The Celtics have been here before – this is their fourth appearance in the Eastern Conference finals in an eight-year playoff run in 2015.
After being drafted sixth overall out of Oklahoma State, Marcus Smart has just finished his first season. Boston had other point guard candidates in mind at the time and in subsequent seasons. The Celtics’ floor leaders and scorers were Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker, who would lead the team to a championship. Those guys are gone, but Smart remains. Smart’s value was never more apparent than in the transition from Game 1 to Game 2, which he missed due to a right foot injury. The green-haired player scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He leads the team with 12 assists, three steals, and five of Boston’s 20 3-pointers. He was an irritant on the Heat’s side all night, displaying his Kia Defensive Player of the Year skills and at the same time, keeping track of details and situations that benefit his team.
However, the main issue with Smart’s performance on Thursday was that he stayed on the floor for more than 40 minutes. He may be attempting a triple-double when he should have been shut down in the blowout. Because there isn’t much time to recover in this round, the Celtics don’t want Smart’s foot to flare up or develop a new injury.
Closing out on Boston shooters
According to regression to the mean, the Celtics will not shoot as well from the 3-point line as they did in Game 2. They made 20 of 40 shots in the opening quarter, including 9 of 11, to blow up the game and lead 70-45 at halftime. Several looks were unrestrained, while others have fought. However, a level of attention to detail must have to change. When you add in the Celtics’ 11-for-34 performance in Game 1, you get 31-for-74 or 41.9 percent.
“If you open the game 9-of-11 from three. It will quickly get you out of your habits,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Injured veterans from Heat to watch for
The Miami Heat aren’t afraid to use their injury report. Philadelphia was just penalized $50,000 for lying about Joel Embiid’s injury condition. Phoenix was also fined $25,000 for not being honest with Devin Booker. The Heat splatter numbers are all over the report before sorting it out afterward.
Four Miami players were listed as questionable Friday evening: Lowry, P.J. Tucker, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent. That may appear hopeful for Lowry, who has missed eight of the last ten games. It was unsuccessful in the two losses against the Sixers in the conference semifinals.
However, in those crucial game-time judgments, “questionable” might soon become “out.”
P.J. Tucker is a different matter. Tucker rolled his ankle in Game 1 but surprised some onlookers by returning to action. Also, he did not return after banging his knee in Game 2. However, Miami relies on him as their first-choice defender on Boston’s Jayson Tatum. And he’s a helpful corner three option who hit a career-best 41.5% this season to open seams for Butler and others.
Read more at OKBET: Heat vs Celtics Game 3: NBA Play-Off Prediction and Odds
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