The Miami Heat have been holding their practices at Emerson College while in Boston to play the Celtics in the opening round. Emerson is famous for turning out Broadway and Hollywood types, including Jay Leno, Dennis Leary and Henry Winkler, aka ‘The Fonz’. So when Quentin Richardson called Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett ‘actresses’ after their altercation in Game 1, maybe he was subconsciously motivated to ratchet up the drama for Game 2 tonight. After all, TNT does know drama.
Whatever the case may be, tonight’s contest at the TD Garden will contain several subplots related to the fourth quarter skirmish between the Celtics and Heat, Kevin Garnett’s league-imposed suspension for tonight’s game being the main one. No KG means coach Doc Rivers must decide between seasoned yet unpredictable veteran Rasheed Wallace and third-year player Glen ‘don’t call me Big Baby anymore’ Davis to insert in the starting lineup. While Wallace got the call when KG was out during the regular season, Davis had a better game on Saturday in the C’s come-from-behind 85-76 win.
Which player will be more capable of limiting Miami’s #2 option, Michael Beasley, on the defensive end? Sheed has the length and experience, but Baby has the foot speed and bulk. Also, look for Boston’s captain Paul Pierce to really amp up his game with new Beantown enemy Richardson guarding him. They already had an adversarial history prior to the Game 1 incident; and now under the brighter bulbs of the playoffs it will surely be intensified.
The Celtics have needed something this season to galvanize and steady them. They were a disappointing 27-27 over the final 54 games of the regular season. Maybe the push-and-shove dance in front of the Heat’s bench in the opener was just the thing to move them closer to the ‘Ubuntu’ (team allegiance) attitude they displayed in their march to the 2008 NBA Championship.
On Miami’s end, look for Jermaine O’Neal to be more aggressive in the paint and for Dwyane Wade to take better care of the basketball tonight. He had seven turnovers in Game 1, while still putting up 26, 8 and 6. As the consensus best player in this series, he’s going to have to be Super Dwyane on offense and may ultimately have to take over in order for the Heat not to return to Miami in a 0-2 series hole. Though only in his second year, people are still questioning whether Beasley was the right pick for Miami and whether he is capable of being a big-time player. If you’re really good, you’ve got to be really good in the playoffs. And if there were ever a time that Dwyane needed Beasley to step up and play big, it’s now.