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Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat

Line: Boston -3

Pick: Celtics -3

In back-to-back games to open this series, the Boston Celtics have folded down the stretch. The Toronto series was supposed to be the hump this young team needed to get over to reach their potential.

Turns out that that hump wasn’t quite enough.

Now Boston faces the potential of an 0-3 hole and a three day layoff between games three and four. It’s hard to imagine a team already on the verge of crumbling based on reports after last game, could withstand a three day break with all the pent up animosity of playoff disappointment weighing them down.

In much simpler terms, their season comes down to tonight.

That first reality is why Boston is my pick tonight. Three points feels like a lot but to be frank, it’s hard to see this team winning a one possession game down the stretch against this Miami team. It’s probably going to take a 10ish point win to get the job done for them.

So, how the heck are they going to handily beat a team that has only lost one game in the post season? The answer has to start with Jayson Tatum.

21 points on 50% shooting is good. The Celtics are in desperation mode though, they need great.

No more sloppy turnovers against the zone, no more offensive fouls out of the frustration of tight defence, Tatum needs to play the refined style of basketball that earned him an All-NBA selection this season. He needs to be better particularly on the defensive end where he, Jaylen Brown and the other help side Celtics have gotten exposed by Bam Adebayo and the Heat.

There’s no more excuses for being late on a rotation of a Bam roll. Everyone in the gym knows it’s coming now, time to actually help Daniel Theis out and make the right play.

What should scare Celtics fans the most about this game is it isn’t going to come down to the offensive end. Yeah they need to turn it over less than 20 times, play with more patience and actually attack the zone but this game won’t be decided on that end.

Miami is too good of a defensive team to not eventually force you into a cold spell. The trick in beating them, is you also can’t let that impact your defence as well.

In both games, Boston as many young teams regularly do, has let their difficulties putting the ball in the basket directly hurt their ability to play sound defence. It’s not a coincidence all those Bam rolls in the third quarter came when Boston couldn’t score.

This Heat team thrives on your laziness, you can’t let up at all to beat them.

One slow rotation and Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro are hitting a three. One misplaced hand and Jimmy Butler is on the free throw line after a swipe through. One late recognition of a Goran Dragic and Bam pick and roll and Adebayo is hanging on your basket.

Boston can’t let themselves be their own downfall.

In all honesty, that’s why I thought they’d find a way to win this series in seven. I thought the talents of Kemba, Brown, Tatum and Smart would be disciplined enough to knock off Miami.

Boy does it look like I was wrong.

Tonight is Boston’s last chance to prove me right. Can Brad Stevens find a way to show his guys the impact of their mistakes or will they continue to falter? I like Brad a lot and think he’ll find a way to adjust.

Maybe after this series I’ll be re-evaluating how I feel about him and his rank among NBA coaches.

Irregardless, tonight has to be the night for Boston. I don’t care if Gordon Hayward comes back or not and frankly they shouldn’t either. Their entire season rests on these 48 minutes.

Sometimes you have to bet on the NBA team that just needs the game a heck of a lot more. Can Boston’s desperation outweigh Miami’s constant dogged approach?

Yes (I think).

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