Celtics ‘Ready for a Fight’ in Game 2 vs. Heat

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The Celtics threw the first punch in their first-round series against the Heat, earning a decisive 114-94 Game 1 win in which they outplayed Miami at both ends of the court.

But this is the NBA’s most common playoff matchup since 2010. With Round 7 underway, Boston understands better than any team in the league what’s to come on Wednesday.

“If you think you’re not going to see a different version of Miami, then you’re kidding yourself,” stated Joe Mazzulla at the Auerbach Center on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, it’s about giving what that game needs, and having the expectation that it’s just going to be a fight – so getting ready for a fight.”

As for what that requires the Celtics to improve upon in Game 2?

“Better is just doing what we did with higher intensity and higher physicality – I think that’s what Game 2s call for,” voiced Boston’s bench boss. “The first adjustment is to do what you did with a higher level of intensity and a higher level of physicality. The small details we can get better on at both ends of the floor – worked on that today, but I think the first step is what mindset, what physicality we’re coming in with.”

Boasting the most talented top six in the NBA, coupled with the thoughtfulness of a coaching staff constantly concocting curveballs to keep the opposition off-guard, affords the Celtics a level of versatility and dynamism at both ends of the court that is arguably unmatched this season.

That flexibility is crucial to adapting to how the Heat adjust after losing the series opener:

“That’s the type of team that we have – the open-mindedness, the knowing what makes sense,” said Mazzulla. “There’s a game plan, but we just can’t have an expectation of how that game plan is going to go. The game could call for something different – it could call for going small, it could call for double bigs, it could call for zone, different things. 

“So, it’s just having an open mind, being ready to execute, and giving that particular game what it needs. That’s really important, especially going against a team like Miami that also has the ability to adjust on the fly.”

As for what the Celtics’ second-year head coach had his team working on at practice to prepare for those adjustments, which will undoubtedly include Miami dialing up its level of physicality?

“The simple things,” conveyed Mazzulla. “Box outs, two-handed rebounds, crashing, setting good screens, getting through screens. I think the biggest adjustment is doing the simple things under duress and physicality and toughness. That to me is more important than anything else.” 

Jaylen Brown also shared his perspective on what he’s expecting from the defending Eastern Conference champions as they fight to avoid returning to Miami down 2-0, a hole made more difficult to climb out of without Jimmy Butler.

“They’re going to be hungry,” said Brown. “Desperate. They’re going to come out fast, even more aggressive. Trying to turn us over. Just trying to crash the glass hard, be physical – knocking us to the ground. Just trying to win that physicality match any way they can. That’s what I foresee. But, we’ll be ready to do the same thing.”

Further Reading

The Keys to Kristaps Porzingis Containing Bam Adebayo and What to Watch for in Game 2

Celtics Bench Stars in Its Role in Game 1 Win vs. Heat: ‘An Identity of Our Team’

Jayson Tatum Discusses First-Career Playoff Triple-Double: ‘A Beautiful Game’

Celtics Protect the Parquet in Dominant Display in Game 1 vs. Heat

Kristaps Porzingis Makes Clear What Celtics’ Mindset is Entering Playoffs

How do the Heat Adapt Without Jimmy Butler? Joe Mazzulla Weighs in

‘I Knew It’: Jaylen Brown Discusses Celtics Drawing Heat in Round 1

Brad Stevens Addresses Potential Extension with Derrick White

Celtics Embracing Challenge to Go Beyond Most Talented

Jayson Tatum Opens Up About Sacrificing in Celtics’ Title Pursuit: ‘It’s a Process’

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