BOSTON One of the things that has made the Miami Heat such a daunting challenge for most foes is the unpredictability that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade bring to the game.
Their size and speed and strength and much-improved perimeter skills make them a near-imp
For once, the Heat's game plan will be obvious.
There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Miami will lock in early and often on doing one thing - getting Wade the ball.
The Heat's inability to get Wade on track - or to the free throw line - was a major factor in Boston's 101-91 Game Three win.
Wade had 18 points on 9-for-20 shooting from the field. More significant, he didn't attempt a single free throw after coming into Game Three averaging 8.5 free throw attempts in the first two games.
Surely one of the biggest adjustments Miami will look to make is getting Wade as well as LeBron James - he had just six free throw attempts in the Game Three loss - in position to be more effective at getting to the rim.
"We have to get them in spots where they can continue to be aggressive, and they will be," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "We'll make some adjustments to make sure they're aggressive. They were able to get to the rim a few times. That's just the way it goes."
As the Heat's primary facilitator on offense, James made it clear that his mindset coming into Game Four was to find as many ways as he could to get Wade on track to start the game.
"I know that D-Wade, once he gets a few easy buckets he's very aggressive from that point on," James said prior to Miami's practice at the TD Garden on Saturday. "I had it going early on in Game Three, but I'm going to need his dominant play as well, so I will make a conscious effort to get him going early."
While it may sound good, it may very well put the Heat in a bigger mess than they found themselves in Game Three.
One of the big reasons why Wade had such a rough night for Miami, was because the Celtics made defending him a priority.
While the C's are certainly concerned by league MVP James, they appear to have spent a lot more time focusing on how to limit Wade by sending multiple defenders at him seemingly whenever he touched the ball.
"It's no secret, I'm getting doubled at the top of the key; I'm getting doubled in the paint," Wade said. "So unless I shoot a turnaround jump shot all the time which is not a good shot for our team, we're going to have to find other ways to loosen things up."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the C's approach to defending Wade wasn't all that different in Game Three than it was in the previous two games.
"We advent' changed our game plan much," Rivers said. "He just missed some shots. Good for us."
This isn't the first time Wade had a not-so-memorable performance in the playoffs.
In Miami's Game Three loss at Indiana, Wade had just five points on 2-for-13 shooting and was 1-for-2 from the line. Trailing 2-1 after the Game Three loss, Wade bounced back with a 30-point, nine-rebound, six-assist night in a 101-93 Game Four win.
"He's been slowed down before and came back pretty well," said Rajon Rondo who was among the different defenders used by the Celtics in trying to limit Wade. "He's a strong player, he's a good player, he's going to be aggressive. I'm sure he's going to try and attack and get to the line (in Game Four). We'll do the same. Regardless of who they have on their side, we're going to try and do our thing and that's play team defense, shrink the floor and rebound the ball."
Wade had nothing but praise for the Celtics defense and the job they did on limiting him in Game Three. Still, he's confident that he will have more opportunities to be effective - more effective - in Game Four on Sunday from the field as well as the free throw line.
"I'm a patient person, so eventually things will hopefully loosen up and I get opportunities where I can attack and get into a rhythm a little more," Wade said. "But you give them and Doc Rivers credit for coming up with the scheme. Now we have to do our jobs and make adjustments."