MIAMI For the second straight game, Sasha Pavlovic will get the start at small forward for the Boston Celtics in place of Paul Pierce who remains out with a right heel injury.
While there may have been a couple of questionable calls in Boston's 106-104 loss to New York on Christmas Day that went against the C's and Pavlovic, the need to be more aggressive is something Pavlovic and Celtics coach Doc Rivers understand has to happen if they are to have any shot at knocking off the Miami Heat tonight.
The loss to the Knicks, a game in which Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 37 points, was a teachable moment for both Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels who will also look to fill the void left by Pierce being sidelined.
"Just compete," Rivers said. "It's a learning lesson. We'll be better."
It was a lesson that Pavlovic expects will help better prepare him for tonight's matchup against two-time league MVP LeBron James, a former teammate in Cleveland.
"I just have to be as much as aggressive as I can be, make it as hard as I can for him to score the basket," Pavlovic told CSNNE.com. "Obviously, they're both great scorers. It's not like I'm going to stop them from scoring, but I have to make it tough for them."
Part of that involves him being more aggressive on offense and at times, look to shoot.
In the loss to the Knicks, Pavlovic did not take a single shot from the field and far too often, didn't show any signs of looking to score.
"I have to be more aggressive offensively," he said.
However, doing so with the Celtics is challenging when you consider Pavlovic starts with four players who have all been named to multiple all-star teams.
"We do have a lot of guys with a lot of talent who can score on this team," Pavlovic said. "But I have to make it tougher for them, so I need to be more aggressive offensively."
LeBron James remembers all too well that Pavlovic, while not being one of the Cavalier's top players, was instrumental in their success which included a trip to the NBA Finals.
On many nights, it was Pavlovic - not James - who would defend the opposing team's top scorer at the shooting guard or small forward position.
"Sasha's a very athletic wing," James said. "he plays hard; very physical. He's very gifted."
But those talents that have been talked about so often by players and coaches, seldom show up with any kind of consistency in games.
It's the main reason why Pavlovic is a player whose role in the NBA remains such a mystery despite this being his ninth NBA season.
"I'm just happy to see him in the NBA as well as seine that he's getting an opportunity to play," James said.
But for how long?
Pierce's return will surely cut into Pavlovic's playing time.
When you throw in the fact that newly acquired Mickael Pietrus is probably a week or so away from stepping on to the floor, Pavlovic's playing time now becomes even more important if he is to establish himself as a player the Celtics can look to coming off the bench.
"I'm going to do whatever I can to help us win," Pavlovic said. "That's all I think about right now; helping us win games."