The Miami Heat took some knocks against the Indiana Pacers in the second round, and they expect to receive some hits from the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After the Celtics allowed the Heat to score 42 points in the paint on 78% shooting in Game 1, Boston PG Rajon Rondo vowed his team would not let Miami get to the rim so easily in Game 2. "Nothing dirty," he elaborated, "but they have to hit the deck."
The Heat were not impressed by Rondo's comments, though. "I expect to be quote, unquote 'put on the deck' or whatever the case may be and then you go to the free throw line," LeBron James said Tuesday. "I don't need to prepare for something I already think is going to happen every game."
"Physical has always been a part of an opponent's game (plan) towards me and teams I've been on," James added. "It's not surprising when I hear it or see it in the game."
Kevin Garnett told the Miami Herald Tuesday Game 2 would be "physical," but a question about hard fouls was met with "You’re getting into some fine [expletive]."
Dwyane Wade echoed James' sentiments, while refusing to allow the Celtics feign him into over-aggressive play. "We're men just like they're men, we're not going to let anyone just come and punk us," he said. "That is not our mentality, to go out there and make people hit the deck."
The Heat's 19 layups and dunks energized the home crowd and shamed the Celtics, who fumed upon watching game film, according to coach Doc Rivers. "There wasn't a lot of happy guys in our locker room yesterday or in film today when we start out by showing 19 straight layups'" he said. "Who wants to watch that?"
"It's got to get more physical from our part," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said Tuesday. "We've got to show better resistance. We thought it was way too easy for them in Game 1. They got very comfortable. Hopefully in Game 2, we can make it a little bit more uncomfortable for them."
In the Pacers series, both Wade and Udonis Haslem bled at the hands of Tyler Hansborough, with Haslem needing 9 stitches after a Hansborough flagrant foul in Game 4. The Pacers hard play didn't win them the series, though, and it did very little to keep Wade and James out of the lane in the last three games, all Heat wins.
Boston knows the Heat are most dangerous when James and Wade can get to the hoop at will. Not only does it make their shots less difficult, it also frees up open shots for the Heat's three-point shooters. Indeed, Boston's loss on Monday could have been even worse if the Heat had shot better than 20% from three-point range.
But even if Boston can keep the Heat out of the paint and shooting contested jumpers, they still have to score, and only Kevin Garnett was doing that reliably on Monday. Normally sharp Ray Allen was just 1 of 7, and he could miss Game 2 due to the bone spurs in his left ankle.
"Ray is Ray, and we're going to keep rolling him out there and see what we can get," Rivers said. "If we feel he can't give it to us, we'll go with someone else. But I think right now you have to give Ray a fighting chance every time."
Meanwhile, Heat forward Chris Bosh has begun doing on-court workouts, but the Heat continue to soft-pedal any question regarding his return to game action. On Sunday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said "I'm not even preparing for [Bosh's return] right now." On Tuesday, he said Bosh's workouts are "more of a progression of a rehab than it was a basketball workout, but I can see how it would be interpreted differently."
With or without Bosh and Allen, Game 2 tips off at 8:30.