After watching the Boston Celtics dismantle the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semis, I am convinced that this team is a formidable opponent for the money. The Miami Heat now face the Celtics (once again) in the Eastern Conference finals to determine which team advances to the NBA Championship series. Here's my breakdown of how the Heat can take down the red-hot Celtics in the Eastern conference finals.
1. Stop Tatum
Tatum is on fire, averaging around 28 dazzling points per game in the playoffs. As Tatum goes, so do the Celtics. He's not the only scorer on the squad. Clearly Boston has gotten stronger offensively with scores in almost every position. The hard fact is that stopping Boston means stopping, disrupting or slowing down Jason Tatum. If Tatum scores 30 points or more, Boston will likely make the game close or win. Some are saying that Tatum is having a Kobe-like series, scoring from just about every place on the floor.
2. Let Jimmy play (D & O)
Jimmy Butler is a feared baller among NBA defenders. His game is complete and he's hungry and still plays with a chip on his shoulders. Butler will get his points, but he's also a problem for offenses. Yes, Jimmy Butler has the quick hands and light feet to cause turnovers and blocked shots. His speed and quick leaping ability can help the Heat in tight spots. This is a case where defense wins championships. With Bam protecting the middle, the Celtics will rely heavily on the 3-pointer. That's going to turn the focus on Tatum, Williams and Brown. If Butler is able to shut down either of the three, the Celtics are doomed.
2. Focus in Defense-Defense-Defense
Defense wins championships, never forget that. Every team in the playoffs can score a ton of points and rain 3-pointers in bunches. This is a case where defense wins championships. The Celtics also are motivated to avenge the Eastern Finals loss from the Heat two years ago. I would suggest they want payback. What can the Heat do? With Bam protecting the middle and lots of swift hands to disrupt ability to move the ball. Either way, the Celtics will rely heavily on the 3-pointer. But Jason Tatum is the cornerstone to the Celtics offense. Shut him down and they're going to have to find someone else to step up all game long. Williams is another sharpshooter to clamp down on. Defense is what will determine the outcome of this series, and the Heat can leverage that to it's benefit.
3. Get turnovers & find Herro for points
When the game gets tight in the third and fourth quarters, turnovers can break a teams will. Turnovers will determine the momentum of the game. Turnovers in basketball is a measure of poor offensive execution and / or great defense. Turnovers eliminate the opportunity for scoring on offense and keep the team from getting fouls or going to the free throw line. The Heat will also have to limit it's own turnovers. The Heat are deadly when creating turnovers, especially when they find Herro on the wing for 3's. The battle plans are being drawn for what is sure to be an explosive Eastern Conference Championship Series.