Celtics Carry 'Sickening' Taste into Tonight's Rematch with Miami
A small portion of redemption is on the table for the Boston Celtics tonight when they take on the Heat at 7:30 p.m. in Miami.
It was the Heat who ended Boston’s playoff run last season by ousting the C’s in six games of the Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. A little more than three months have passed since, and the sour taste from that series remains in Boston’s collective mouth.
“It was sickening,” Semi Ojeleye said of what that he has thought since that series. “It felt like we did not leave everything out there.”
As a result, Bam Adebayo was able to control the series and lead Miami to victory.
Adebayo’s performance is one each franchise will not soon forget. He was dominant throughout the six games, posting averages of 21.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He sent the Celtics into the offseason with a 32-point, 14-rebound, five-assist performance during Game 6.
Boston hopes to be more successful in containing him tonight with a new-look lineup that features versatile big man Tristan Thompson, who possesses a combination of athleticism and strength of which the Celtics lacked last season.
Since signing with Boston, Thompson, who watched the Celtics-Heat series as an impending free agent, has spoken about Boston’s inability to contain Adebayo during that series. He has made it clear that he believes he is a key part of the solution, and he’ll get a chance to prove so tonight.
Likewise, third-year big man Rob Williams is certain to get another crack at Miami’s interior All-Star. Williams has been Boston’s most improved player this season and heads into tonight’s contest averaging 6.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game in an average of only 16.6 minutes of playing time. He is coming off of a double-double performance against Toronto and is hungry to carry his success over into tonight’s rematch with Adebayo.
However, Williams made it clear Wednesday afternoon that this game isn’t only about Boston’s bigs versus Adebayo. Instead, it’s about the Celtics as a whole containing Adebayo and all of the talent around him.
“Just taking more notice of what role everyone is playing on their team, not just Bam,” Williams said of how the Celtics will adjust to Miami compared to last postseason. “Obviously they’re running a lot of offense through him, so pressuring him more, and just keying in on everyone’s tendencies.”
The Celtics didn’t do so at a high enough level during last season’s Conference Finals. As a result, they fell short of their ultimate goal of winning a championship.
They hope that this season, with Thompson and the rapidly-developing Williams on board, they’re in better position to contain Adebayo and the Heat, which could lead to them earning at least a piece of redemption tonight.