Heat's goal: Continue clampdown on Rondo, KG

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Heat's goal: Continue clampdown on Rondo, KG

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

MIAMI There are plenty of places where the Celtics can improve after their Game 1 loss to Miami, but the two biggest areas of concern are Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

Well, maybe concern is too strong of a word. With those two, its not a matter of if they can play better; they have to play better. Miamis well aware of this, of course, and focused on preventing the two Celtics stars from getting back on track.

Rondo got into a little bit of foul trouble in Game 1, which may have affected his rhythm, said Heat coach Erick Spoelstra. He was more into it in the second half and had a big impact.

Asked how they hope to limit the Celtics elusive point guard, Spoelstra said: We try to put bodies in front of him, but he breaks you down and finds a way. Then at the end of the day, when it gets broken down, all rules are thrown out the window.

Miamis approach to stopping KG is a little more scientific.

I thought we were in tune whenever he caught the ball, LeBron James said of how they handled Garnett, who scored only six points in 37 minutes. We gave help to our bigs and they did a great job of just trying to put him in situations hes not comfortable with. We just contest all his shots, be aggressive and just try to attack him offensively, too.

Later while talking about Garnett, LeBron said, Hes a great player, we dont expect to hold him under his average all series. We dont expect him to have another game like he had last night, but we dont expect Chris Bosh to have a game like he did Sunday, also.

It was an understandable knock on his teammate, who scored only seven points on 3-10 shooting in 37 minutes. But when asked to respond, Bosh wasnt too concerned with his performance.

I think I did a good job, Bosh said. For one, we won the game, and I rebounded the ball. I didnt make that many mistakes on defense, either. On offense, Im not really worried about that. I know I can make shots. Im glad I made mistakes in the first game because that means a I have a lot of room for improvement.

One guy whose performance cant be argued is James Jones, who came off the bench to score 25 points for Miami and who many of the Celtics credited with being the reason the Heat won the game.

While you dont expect Jones to put up those kind of numbers, the fact that he made an impact wasnt a complete surprise. One of the biggest problems the Celtics have defensively with the Heat is their tendency to double team, or help too much when a ball handler gets into the paint. In most cases, this ball handler is James or Dwyane Wade, and when the Celtics collapse, this creates an opportunity for perimeter shooters to get open.

The Celtics do a tremendous job of protecting the paint so when you put the ball on the floor theres usually at least two bodies there protecting those drivers, Spoelstra said. So JJ was able to get into open areas and knock down those open opportunities.

Spacing is critical for our offense. Executing the second and third option will be paramount because both teams trigger very well. You need to be able to execute at the end of a possession, and JJ does that as well as anyone in the league.

Asked about his performance, Jones was humble, and deflected most of the credit: My teammates have done a great job of getting me the ball in spots where I can be effective. I got a couple good looks and I made them pay.

The other guy who really made the Celtics pay on Sunday was Wade, who lit up Boston for 38 points. But dont expect that to go to his head, or have any bearing his performance on Tuesday night.

I would approach this game the same way as if I had 12 point or 38, Wade said. Every game is different. Last time, they put a lot of attention toward Lebron, so I had an opportunity to get in a rhythm. But either way, my job is to chase Ray Allen around and hopefully he get tired one day and misses a shot.

Rich Levine can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.