NBA Roundtable

Game Time: Miami vs Boston

In Game Log / Recap on December 28, 2011 at 9:18 am

Miami vs Boston

Pre-Game Thoughts

  • Nightmare Matchup — LeBron James vs Sasha Pavlovic … yikes!
  • That bad matchup will very likely decide the contest. Extremely difficult to see Boston winning this game without Paul Pierce (especially without his physical defense on LeBron)
  • The Celtics are short on bodies out on the wing tonight with Paul Pierce and Mickael Pietrus out injured. Marquis Daniels is their only fit backup wing and play the majority of minutes against LeBron but Pavlovic will start and get 15-20 of them himself.
  • Unfortunately, this also means that Boston needs to get 35-40 minutes out of Ray Allen because they will need to keep him on the court whenever Dwyane Wade is out there otherwise they’ll be forced to defend Wade with an undersized two / point guard such as Keyon Dooling, Avery Bradley or gosh forbid E’Twaun Moore (no way should the rookie be matched against Wade). Dooling is the best option of the three.

First Quarter

  • Miami start out of the gate strong, build a 26-15 lead. LeBron and Wade attacking the rim.
  • Chris Bosh had a nice drive when Jermaine O’Neal switched onto him.
  • The Celtics had a late flurry in the first quarter keyed by four consecutive Miami turnovers on one end + a pair of layups and a three pointer on the other end. The Celtics have closed the gap to 26-25.
  • Boston has to go to their bench and is using a small backcourt of Dooling and Bradley. Miami has only one guard on the floor (N.Cole) and two big wings (LeBron, Battier) along with two small-ish bigs (Haslem, J.Anthony).
  • Unfortunately, this has left Bradley stuck on Battier. Miami immediately attacks the mis-match in the post and Battier draws the foul. Miami should continue to look to exploit this matchup.
  • On the other end, Miami is in a zone. Perhaps to avoid Battier getting burned off the bounce by Bradley, perhaps not. Hmm, next possession, they aren’t in a zone. It was nothing.
  • Next possession, Miami look for J.Howard who has just entered the game to set a cross screen for Battier on the opposite block, some confusion, both Boston players go to Battier who pulls back, leaves Howard unguarded at the rim. Pass, easy layup. Nice.
  • Good steal from Norris Cole. Feisty. Keyon Dooling drives hard baseline, spins, Cole rips it from him. Ripped it right out of his hands. Nice physical defense from the rookie.

Second Quarter

  • Early in the period, Miami has a 14-3 advantage in free throws attempted
  • A pair of impressive plays – Kevin Garnett at the top of the key, uses his length and vision to hold the ball above his head and out of Haslem’s reach, spots the cutting Marquis Daniels, finds him perfectly for the easy layup, great recovery and athletic play from Wade as he flies across and swats the layup out from the sky. Miami running the other way, Norris Cole gets a layup for Miami. Great pass by Garnett, better block by Wade.  Another aggressive drive in the open court from the rookie. I like Cole’s game.
  • Wade with one of those beautiful spinning drives finishing with the layup. Miami have re-opened the lead at 36-29.
  • Wade chases down Rondo on a fastbreak opportunity, Rondo tries to brace himself for some contact and puts his body in-between the rim and Wade, then notices Bass from behind, Wade jumps with Rondo, Rondo caught in two minds whether to shoot (and risk the block) or pass the lob to pass. In the end, he does neither, throws it up meaninglessly in the air, Bass has no chance at it, turnover. All because Wade put in the effort to put Rondo under pressure and force him to make a decision. And this time, it was a bad decision and turnover.
  • Norris Cole with another impressive display – this time in the post versus Rajon Rondo, great ball denial, almost 3/4ering Rondo, stops the pass from even happening, forces Rondo to run back out behind the three point line and Boston to waste the majority of the shot clock. Then knocks the ball away from Rondo which forces Rondo to work hard against the shot clock (which became a three second violation and turnover). Really impressed by both the post defense + continuing to play the full 24 second shot clock defensively.
  • Pavlovic (6-8) tries to take a fadeaway over Wade (6-5) from 8 feet, Wade blocks it.
  • Miami’s defense is really cranking up the pressure here (with Bosh at center). Approaching the midway point in the second.
  • Wade with another block right at the rim against Ray Allen (driving layup).
  • Great deflection and recovery from Norris Cole after Rondo poked the ball away from behind Cole. Stopped a fastbreak layup. Recovered the possession for Miami. Multiple-efforts from this guy. Leads to a James Jones three ball.
  • Ray Allen trapped dribbling along the sideline, turnover. 14th Boston turnover.
  • Nice shot fake to get the defender to commit, then swings the ball to the open James Jones for the three. Norris Cole again, great composure and decision making. Simple basketball plays. Miami up 57-40.
  • Great job by Rajon Rondo. Forced to defend LeBron as Boston go small in the backcourt again. Unbelievable job denying that entry pass fronting the post. Great quickness as Miami swing the ball from the side to the top of the key and back again. Couldn’t get the ball in.
  • On the other end, Ray Allen hits his second three point in quick succession (and third within a few minutes) to give him 17 points for the game and to cut the lead to 59-49. Timeout Miami.
  • Now Ray is on LeBron. He did a very good job on James in the playoffs two years ago. LeBron posts him up in the high post at the top of the key, turnaround fallaway jumper, looks like he was a bit off balance, nails it.
  • A pair of beautiful fastbreak layups for Miami. A lob pass from James from the left wing (three point line) to Wade for the layup, miss, LeBron races in and tips home the miss. Then Rondo pushes it back, creates a nice short jumper (7 feet) for Garnett, misses, Miami races the other way, long pass ahead to Wade at the foul line, passes it to the right to a streaking LeBron James for another layup. 13 now for LeBron. Miami creating a lot of easy baskets tonight.
  • Lovely pass over the top from Rondo to Garnett as Haslem fronted the post. Layup.

Third Quarter

  • Miami lead 69-54
  • Miami have a 23-11 advantage in points of turnovers. Also have a 30-14 advantage in points in the paint (fastbreak points probably account for a fair bit of that).
  • First 3 possessions for Miami = 3 Chalmers turnovers – missed the first one, second was a lob pass on the break that was too high, third one he picked up his dribble on the right wing, nowhere to go, tried to pass back up top but couldn’t see the passing lane clearly and Garnett was right there to intercept it. Bad start to the second half for Chalmers. Oh boy, a fourth turnover from Chalmers, this time losing the ball on a dribble drive. Crowd getting angsty. Now Joel Anthony turns it over. Five turnovers within the first 2 minutes.
  • Jermaine O’Neal is shockingly slow. Even slower than last year. His body continues to breakdown at a rapid rate.
  • Wade and LeBron continue to assault the rim. Miami lead 83-65 midway through the third.
  • Boston down 14 with about 4 minutes to play in the third. Where down 17 just a short minute or two ago. Announcers talking about perhaps giving up on this game and concentrating on the next one (due to packed schedule). Although, Steve Kerr does note that there is still plenty of time for a comeback with this score-line. More uncertainty about what Boston should do here than advice.
  • Brandon Bass starting to show some aggressiveness offensively. Looking good attacking Haslem.
  • Boston have switched to a zone to disrupt Miami. Looks like a 2-3 with KG an Bass on either side of the lane and three perimeter guys (one up top, one on either wing).
  • A 2-3 or a 2-1-2 zone. Garnett is roaming around the paint depending on what Miami does (how they shift their big to attack zone). Sometimes Garnett is at the free throw line, sometimes down on the block. When he goes up to the FT line, one of the wings drops deeper to cover the baseline / corner.
  • Keyon Dooling is such a streaky shooter. Bags another triple. Looks like he has it tonight. 8 point game, final minute. Boston on a 10-1 run over the last four minutes.
  • Miami has missed 8 straight shots over the past few minutes. Zone.

Fourth Quarter

  • Miami push the ball hard, force Boston out of the zone on first possession. Miss their shot though.
  • Oh wait, Boston play man-to-man again. This time there is some pick and roll action, nice ball movement, ball swings to the corner and Shane Battier drills a three to put Miami up 96-83 one minute into the fourth.
  • Steve Kerr question’s Boston decision to go away from the zone – ditto. And I gotta say, I love having Steve Kerr as a commentator. One of the best commentators out there at the minute. Very knowledgeable with his experience both as a pro player and as a GM. Communicates well (a surprisingly difficult thing for some ex-player turn commentators to do well).
  • Oh, lovely crossover and drive from Norris Cole for the layup. Miami in a groove again after that zone disappeared.
  • Boston move backup into their zone defense.
  • The Celtics post up Rondo for the third time against Norris Cole. The first time, Cole defended so well he stopped the entry pass from even happening. The second time, Miami got called for a three second violation as they attempted to double down to help the rookie. The third time, Rondo patiently attacks, moves towards middle, help comes, spins quickly the other way and takes a spinning hook shot which spins around the rim and rolls out. Miss.
  • Bass double teamed, panics, tries to dribble but bounces the ball off his leg and out of bounds.
  • Norris Cole with a floater in the lane. Then side-irons a three. Cole has 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists so far.
  • Lovely cut by Dooling and pass by Garnett for the wide open layup … oh, and Wade out of nowhere, recovers and swats the ball violently. Boston retain possession. Garnett takes a contested one dribble pull up J at the elbow over Haslem, hits it.
  • Beautiful pass by Rondo. Left open as his man went to help, was just above elbow, caught the pass, dribble penetration, forced the D to help instead of taking the shot, then passes to the open Bass for the dunk and foul. Heady play by Rondo. How to attack a defense when they leave you open without accepting that long jump-shot.
  • Ray Allen bags a three pointer in transition. 9 point game, 6 minutes left to play, timeout Miami. The Heat had looked in control but a quick Boston run has put this game back in the balance.
  • Rondo and Bosh exchange interior baskets.
  • Next possession, Cole drives baseline, Garnett challenges at the rim, forces the miss. Looked like Cole pushed off with his right arm, not called. Miami ball, baseline, up top to Cole, drives hard down the middle playing against the shot clock, takes the runner over Garnett, misses, rebound Boston.
  • Miami not running enough in the fourth. Letting the tempo get away from them. This is Boston’s preferred tempo right now.
  • Boston run Ray off a Bass screen on the right wing, Rondo passes to Ray, Ray to Bass, open from 18 feet, hesitates, Haslem closes, then takes the tougher more contested jumper, misses. Bad hesitation from Bass.
  • Bosh trails the play, gets the pass, thinks about the three, passes it up as defender closes, LeBron has an angle for the drive, goes hard to the rim, layup. Miami lead 106-97 with under four to play.
  • Bass with a nice offensive rebound and draws the rebound (off a Ray miss catch and shoot on opposite wing). Eight point game, three and a half to play.
  • Wade forces two drives. First time, deflected out of bounds, Miami keep possession. Second time, forces himself into the corner for a fadeaway jumper off the dribble heavily contested by the bigger Brandon Bass, way off, Boston rebound. Fastbreak the other way, Rondo to Bass, Norris Cole draws the charge (bad call, was in the air, blocking foul).
  • Too much halfcourt basketball for Miami. Norris Cole hits a 22 footer from the left wing to beat the zone.
  • Dooling draws the foul, makes two FTs. Eight point game, over two and a half to play.
  • Haslem misses a baseline jumper. Fastbreak the other way, Rondo forces a bounce pass through traffic to a streaking Bass, a little behind Bass, can’t hold it but Miami foul while trying to win the loose ball. More FTs for Dooling who got to the loose ball first. Good hustle.
  • Then Dooling bags a three pointer (his third of the game?) from the left corner in transition following a Norris Cole missed jumper from the opposite corner / end of the court. Three point game.
  • Seven straight points from Dooling in about 40 seconds to close the gap.
  • Miami lead 108-105 with 2 minutes to play.
  • Wade dribbles left, drives, off balance fadeaway, goes glass, misses, rebound Boston. Rondo runs the other way, long pass, full court pass to Dooling who leaked out, great recovery by Wade to intercept the pass. Excellent hustle by Wade. Risky pass by Rondo which failed to come off. Bad gamble. Miami come down the other end and Norris Cole hits a 21 footer from the right wing to punish Boston.
  • Five point game, one and a half to play.
  • Bass takes and makes a one dribble pull up J over Bosh. Nice pass by Rondo to find Bass in some space. Back down to 3.
  • Miami patiently run their offense, move the ball, Norris Cole takes a 20 footer from the top of the key and hits it to finish out the possession. Lead back to five.
  • One minute left, Ray uses a high screen and roll, dealt with easily, trap Ray, he picks up his dribble, in trouble, Boston moving hectically to bail Ray out, Bass catches it at the three point line, drives, off bounces, 11 seconds on the shot clock but throws up an ugly running shot, brick. Miami ball.
  • Miami hold the ball, waste the clock, Wade dribbles in and takes the twenty footer, misses, LeBron keeps it alive, Bosh picks it up, Miami retain possession. Dribble out the clock. Boston foul, free throws. Game over.

A good comeback from Boston late in the third and throughout the fourth but Miami thoroughly outplayed Boston for large parts of this game as you would expect them to do without Paul Pierce in the lineup.

Miami looks the much superior team and I would expect them to beat Boston again in the postseason this year should they meet.

Other Notes

Kevin Garnett

Garnett looks noticeably slower this season.

Especially when trying to recover to his man after defending the pick and roll or playing any type of help defense (those multiple effort type plays).

Appears to me that KG is attempting to switch a lot more frequently (with JO) to work around the decline in quickness. Relying on his smarts to get by.

Boston’s Defense

With Garnett slowing down some more and Jermaine O’Neal looking older and older, it’s hard to see Boston maintaining their elite defense from last season.

They still have enough talent and intelligence to be a top ten defense but I don’t think they’ll be a top three defense anymore.

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