After the Boston Celtics defeated the former champs in the Milwaukee Bucks Sunday in a game 7—they will now head to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. In order for the C’s to make it to the NBA Finals, they’ll need to do these five things.
Play physical on the perimeter
One thing that makes the Miami Heat so lethal is their guard play and long range shooting. With the potential Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Hero, Duncan Robinson, plus more, the C’s have their hands full in the back court. Fortunately, with the talented guards the Heat have, they can be rattled with physical defense. Their not as physically strong as a Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown. So the Celtics will need to fight through screens, bump guards off their spot, and really get up in their grill. A guy like Robinson who’s been having a bit of a shooting slump this season, can be bullied off the ball, especially if he’s forced to put the ball on the ground. If the Celtics can stop their shooters from getting in rhythm, then it’ll be a short series.
Dominate the paint
The Celtics need to control the paint on both sides of the floor. The C’s got lucky last round against the tall Bucks, thanks to getting hot from deep. But with Bam Adebayo averaging 19 points and 10 assists a night, they need to contain him. No second chance points, win the rebounding battle, and prevent lobs over the top for alley-oops. It’s not an easy task, but it’s doable with the bigs the Celtics have.
Stars to play a lot of minutes
One thing the Heat have over the Celtics is their depth. Unfortunately, that’s something that’s too late to fix at this point of the season. However, if Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown can each play over 40 minutes every game, the C’s chances are high for coming out of this series. With Robert Williams possibly back, they’ll need big minutes from him and Al Horford if possible.
Stay even Keeled throughout the entire series
Basketball is a game of runs—and in a best of 7 series, there’s going to be ups and downs. Fortunately for the Celtics, they’ve shown mental toughness and grit through the toughest times. As for Jimmy Butler and the Heat, although they’re a physically tough team, they’ve been seen having mental breakdowns on the sidelines. Part of that is just because guys want it bad, but Jimmy Butler is known for his disputes with teammates. If the Celtics play strong together no matter the score, the Heat will have times when they will fold as a unit—that’s the time for the Celtics to attack.
Take advantage of the home games
Last series the Celtics lost two home games which ultimately led to a game 7 in the Garden. Whenever a team has to go to Boston to play the C’s—that should be an automatic loss. The Miami Heat are a strong team that doesn’t give up anything easy, so when there’s any sort of opportunity, the C’s need to take it.