BOSTON (CBS) – With the Boston Celtics falling to the Miami Heat 120-107 in Miami on Tuesday night, SI’s Senior basketball writer Ian Thomsen joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Wednesday to break down the season opening loss.
Although, it’s hard to draw any real conclusions in game 1-of-82, it’s clear the Celtics and Heat have switched rolls of a few years back.
“All these previous years the Celtics have had their act together and Miami has been trying to figure it out. All of a sudden you look at the two teams and Miami’s key players have been together longer than Boston’s,” said Thomsen. “So Miami is now the settled team and Boston is the newcomer trying to figure out how to play, let alone beat Miami.”
“These guys are not Celtics yet,” Thomsen said of the off-season additions by Danny Ainge. “They haven’t been around Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. The Celtics are different than other franchises; there is a higher standard. If you haven’t been in that system, a lot of guys have to elevate to reach that standard. We won’t know how good these players are and how good this team is until later in the season.”
Thomsen said this was the worst possible matchup for the Celtics to begin the season with, trying to fit all their moving parts into a new system. And despite their defensive struggles all game, Boston made a late run to pull within four points in with 2:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. But they didn’t score after that point, and the defense continued to fail them, just as it did all night.
“This is just a hard game to draw a lot of conclusions from because Miami is unique. They are the best team in the league and they have that lineup that is not traditional at all; with LeBron playing a different position from possession to possession,” said Thomsen. “It’s hard to match up to them because they are defining how the game is played.”
The Celtics counted on Jeff Green coming off the bench and guarding LeBron, but like two years ago in the playoffs, he struggled mightily with the task. But with Green missing all of last season after undergoing heart surgery, Thomsen was not surpised at all.
“I don’t think we should be so surprised Jeff Green struggled in his first game after a year out. He had to match up with a team where his role changed every trip down the floor,” said Thomsen. “They wanted him to match up with LeBron, but LeBron is the toughest matchup in the league. There is no player in the league that can match up against him now that he is posting up… It’s a hard thing for (Green) to keep up with.”
“He’s going to be good, but the question is will he be great? Because the Celtics need him to be great,” he said of Green.