Celts, OKC to get even with Heat, Grizz?

Five writers forecast Game 2 of Celtics-Heat and Game 2 of Grizzlies-Thunder

Originally Published: May 3, 2011
ESPN.com

Heat/CelticsAP Photo/Wilfredo LeeRajon Rondo's foul trouble and Miami's attacking style were two major issues for Boston on Sunday.

So, who had Memphis winning the first game of the second round? Who had Miami knocking back Boston in Game 1?

As we get ready for two Game 2s on Tuesday, let's play a little 5-on-5:


1. Which five words best sum up Celtics-Heat Game 1?


A. Heat now in driver's seat
B. Celtics just had bad day
C. Refs were a major factor
D. Long, contentious series is brewing
E. [Write your own headline here]

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: D. Long, contentious series is brewing. The Celtics will be itching to get Game 2 started after Rajon Rondo's fluke foul trouble, Paul Pierce's ejection and Kevin Garnett's general ineffectiveness. We've seen the C's rise from the dead after an ugly loss (right, LeBron?). Buckle in, folks.

J.M. Poulard, WarriorsWorld: D. Long, contentious series is brewing. The Heat and Celtics were just about even in every statistical category: field goals made, rebounds, assists, 3-point field goals made and turnovers. The one big difference? Miami's 32-to-18 edge at the foul line. As the series unfolds, the team that is the aggressor will get the majority of the calls.

Brian Robb, Celtics Hub: D. Long contentious series is brewing. Dwayne Wade and James Jones outwitted Boston on both ends of the floor Sunday, drawing first blood against the defending Eastern Conference champs. Nonetheless, when Boston has gone down in the past two postseasons, it hasn't gone quietly. I expect nothing to change on that front in this series.

Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: D. Long, contentious series is brewing. Boston was so bad, and Miami so good, that the Celtics have to be concerned going forward. But Miami hit an insane amount of tough jumpers, and two of Boston's best four were nonexistent. Seeing as how one of those four is being guarded by Mike Bibby, I doubt that sustains.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: D. Long, contentious series is brewing. I hesitate to make any major declarations after any Game 1. Remember, last year LeBron's Cavs beat the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern semifinals, too, before Boston won it in six. Of course LeBron's team this time is much different, but one game a seven-game series does not make.


2. Which five words best forecast Celtics-Heat Game 2?


A. Heat continue focused, forceful effort
B. Celtics regain mojo and prevail
C. Comes down to final possession
D. Shaq plays, heck breaks loose
E. [Write your own headline here]

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: E. James Jones drops another 25. Just kidding. The Celtics will be better prepared to cover shooters on the weak side and I don't see Mike Bibby catching lightning in a bottle again defensively against Rondo. What I do see is the Celtics eking out a win on top of Pierce's vengeance, tying it up before they ship up to Boston.

J.M. Poulard, WarriorsWorld: B. Celtics regain mojo and prevail. Boston will regroup and once again become the aggressor. I expect Garnett, O'Neal and Davis to set the tone physically and impose their will on Bosh, Ilgauskas and Anthony. Also, Rajon Rondo should have a bigger impact in Game 2 than he did in his 32 foul plagued minutes in the series opener.

Brian Robb, Celtics Hub: E. Celtics take "must-win" Game 2. The must-win label may seem premature, but attempting to win four of five games against Miami after going down 2-0 is too tall a task for Boston. They know it. The Celtics have a history of responding in these situations (4-0 in Game 2 after losing Game 1 over past three postseasons). Expect Boston to respond accordingly.

Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: C. Comes down to final possession. Last year, the Celtics didn't regain their edge until a Miami 3-point specialist got into a tussle with Paul Pierce. Whether James Jones has the same effect as Quentin Richardson or not, these Celtics thrive on anger and are too proud to go down 2-0 without at least testing Miami's crunch-time resolve.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: C. Comes down to final possession. The Celtics didn't play as well as they can. The Heat got 25 points from James Jones. Something's got to give there. Game 1 wasn't especially close, but the Celtics went to Miami to take one game and the opportunity is still there.


3. Which five words best sum up Grizzlies-Thunder Game 1?


A. Z-Bo, Gasol dominated Game 1
B. OKC, Westbrook stumbled from gate
C. It's simple: Better team won
D. Memphis: New Western Conference favorite
E. [Write your own headline here]

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: E. OKC forgot to D up. Never thought we'd see a team absolutely bludgeon Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka inside, but the Grizzlies scored 52 points in the paint on Sunday. When Shane Battier's beating you up as a power forward, it's time for a gut-check.

J.M. Poulard, WarriorsWorld: C. It's simple: Better team won. Successful playoff teams typically defend, rebound, get themselves to the line and protect the rock. Memphis did all those things in Game 1 and they managed to force the Thunder into 18 turnovers. Sounds like a winning recipe to me.

Brian Robb, Celtics Hub: A. Z-Bo, Gasol dominated Game 1. A combined 54 points and 23 rebounds for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph against the revamped Oklahoma City frontline spells domination in my book. Both players opened up the paint for their teammates while scoring from all over the floor, leaving more questions than answers for the Thunder on how to slow down the duo in Game 2.

Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: A. Z-Bo, Gasol dominated Game 1. A combined 54 points on 33 shots on one of the best defensive frontcourts out there, 23 boards (seven of them offensive), a seemingly unstoppable midrange game and genuine "best power forward in the league" praise from Kevin Durant? Doesn't get much more dominant than that.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: A. Z-Bo, Gasol dominated Game 1. The Thunder upgraded their frontline exactly for a series against a team like Memphis. And yet Gasol and Randolph put up 54 and 23 together. Not necessarily one of your all-time backfires, but OKC definitely needs a better defensive effort against the two Grizzly towers.


4. Which five words best forecast Grizzlies-Thunder Game 2?


A. Memphis moves closer to sweep
B. Durant takes over Game 2
C. Westbrook takes over Game 2
D. Westbrook forces things excessively again
E. [Write your own headline here]

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: B. Durant takes over Game 2. Sure, Durant put up 33 and 11 in Game 1 but we know he has another gear and I suspect we'll see him shift into it on Tuesday. He has to continue fighting through pressure off the ball and use his height advantage over Tony Allen.

J.M. Poulard, WarriorsWorld: B. Durant takes over Game 2. Granted, in order for that to happen, Russell Westbrook has to accept that he is not Starbury playing with Kevin Garnett. Instead, it's important that he plays a smart and efficient game. The 35.3 percent shooting and 13 turnovers in his last three games might get him to tone it down and look KD's way.

Brian Robb, Celtics Hub: B. Durant takes over Game 2. Despite a tremendous effort from the Grizz in Game 1, Kevin Durant remains as the best offensive player in this series. As we saw in Game 1, the superstar forward has a favorable size or speed matchup, depending on whom Memphis decides to throw at him. KD will continue to take advantage of this and deliver for the Thunder in a pivotal Game 2.

Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: E. Memphis comes down to earth. Memphis has become everybody's favorite underdog, and with good reason. But playing full throttle basketball every single game is virtually impossible. A young team, on the road, with home-court advantage already in hand, coming off the craziest 72 hours in franchise history screams letdown -- even if it lasts just one game.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: E. Thunder defense does its work. A lot of people are pointing a giant finger at Russell Westbrook because of his seven turnovers in Game 1. But he didn't lose that game. The Thunder's defense did (Memphis had an offensive rating of 123.5 in Game 1). OKC's defense must improve. All season, the Thunder have bounced back after losses. Game 2 will be the latest example.


5. Which five words best forecast the future for Memphis and OKC?


A. Grizzlies rampage ruthlessly thru West
B. Memphis can't match L.A., Dallas
C. Lakers lose, Memphis handles Mavs
D. Wait, Thunder still win series
E. [Write your own headline here]

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: D. Wait, Thunder still win series. As jarring as it was to see the Grizzlies steal one from the Thunder in front of the raucous OKC Arena crowd, I expect Westbrook to settle down and James Harden to show up. But why does betting against Memphis feel so wrong?

J.M. Poulard, WarriorsWorld: D. Wait, Thunder still win series. At some point, the Thunder are going to realize that the Grizzlies do not want to shoot the 3-point shot (10.6 attempts per game in the postseason) and they are going to dare them to make some by crowding Randolph in the post. Such an adjustment might be extremely tough for Memphis to counter.

Brian Robb, Celtics Hub: D. Wait, Thunder still win series. I anticipated a long, entertaining battle, with the Thunder winning in seven, and nothing from Game 1 changes that. The Grizzlies have played tremendous basketball through this postseason, but are playing over their heads offensively. Look for the Thunder to shore up their defense and ride their offensive firepower to a hard-fought series win.

Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: D. Wait, Thunder still win series. James Harden can't possibly be as bad all series as he was in Game 1, Russell Westbrook will eventually make a shot at the rim, and this Thunder team will remember how to get stops. Also, Zach Randolph can't possibly not miss jumpers the rest of the playoffs, can he?

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: D. Wait, Thunder still win series. It's amazing to me how quickly people can turn. Even after a single quarter, there were tweets and comments everywhere as if Memphis had just won the series. Remember when everyone was calling OKC the new favorite? Now after one game Memphis gets the crown? It is a contest to four, and the Grizzlies have one.


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