The Celtics need someone to step up in a big way, and for Shaq to make an impact, and to create more turnovers, and... you get the idea.
Posted by Matt Moore
One Big Thing: The time for equal contributions has past. The Celtics need a hero. Someone has to step up and lead the way for Boston, because for the first time, Ubuntu may be outmatched. Offensive distribution and suffocating defense are both great plans in 99 percent of all matchups, but for whatever reason, the Heat have stormed the barricades in this series. Now the Celtics are going to have to fight them out and, to do so, someone's going to have to set the example. Whether that's Paul Pierce having a game befitting his status as one of the greatest true Celtics ever, a bully-in-the-schoolyard rampage by Kevin Garnett, or Rajon Rondo getting back to being the brilliant distributor and triple-double machine he can be, someone's going to have to put in a special type game. It's not that the other Celtics can't contribute. It's that they have been and the Celtics are still losing. It's time for someone on Boston to make a statement that says "We're still here, and we're not going down like this."
The X-Factor: Shaquille O'Neal is expected to play Saturday for the first time in the playoffs and what feels like the first time in a decade. O'Neal isn't going to save the Celtics. But he can come out and set the tone. In reality, O'Neal's no longer the defender or rebounder he once was. But he can, surprisingly, score. And there's no one on the Heat that can handle his girth. O'Neal's going to take more possessions than he really needs to, but if he can bring out the old bull in a china shop act for a few drop hooks, that could get the crowd, the energy, and the momentum on the Celtics side. O'Neal can't lead the Celtics through the gate. He can bust the gate open with his backside, though.
The Adjustment: The Celtics' defensive principles all revolve around position. Get to the spot before your man does. Get a hand up where he wants the ball to go. Contest, contest, contest. But with the Heat having turned the ball over on less than 15 percent of all possessions in this series, the time may have come to start attacking the ball. The Celtics need to disrupt the Heat's offense and get easy buckets of their own. In short, things have got to come a little easier for the Celtics and be a little more frustrating for the Heat.
The Sticking Point: The Heat are doing it. They're winning with huge contributions from the Triad, playing great defense, and getting the wins. We've yet to see a Heat team really close when down in the 4th to a great team, but the Heat are starting to change the narrative about them in regards to their ability to step up in big situations. Game 3 in Boston will be the stiffest test yet.