How Celtics Lack Of Size Proved Issue Vs. Heat, And Could Moving Forward

Brad Stevens admitted it himself.
The Celtics “were toast” when the Miami Heat got the ball inside during Boston’s 112-106 loss to the Heat on Tuesday from the campus in Walt Disney World.
“Our defense has to improve,” Stevens said, bluntly.
The Celtics, surprisingly held a major advantage in regards to points in the paint (54-28), but that statistic probably doesn’t tell the whole story as it was Miami who had the tenacious advantage inside.
The Heat got the ball deep in the paint and it left the smaller C’s with no choice but to foul — especially when 6-foot-3 Marcus Smart was tasked with the responsibility of guarding 6-foot-9 Bam Adebayo. Smart had four fouls in the first two quarters and fouled out late in the third. That certainly didn’t help the defensive-struggling Celtics.
“Well, we’re fouling because they’re getting the ball so deep,” Stevens said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “The post fouls they’re getting in deep and they’re using the strength and size. So, we’re going to have to not allow the ball to get deep, going to have to figure that out. Beginning of the year, I thought we guarded with great intensity. We kept the ball out of the paint. We’re not doing as good a job now keeping the ball out of the paint. So, we just got to figure out. If it gets down there, we’re toast. So we have to keep it from getting there.”
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Adebayo led the Heat with a team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds (three offensive). Ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk even gave Boston some trouble inside, finishing with 15 points and having the presence of mind to kick it out to the Miami shooters, who connected on 15 3-pointers, 10 of which came in the first half. It proved a nice display of inside-out basketball.
“I think first of all (Bam) Adebayo’s strength in the post, and then Kelly (Olynyk) posted. When they got switched, they went straight to the block and posted really hard,” Stevens said. “It put us in a bad spot, we were so spread out on the shooters. So, we got to do a better job of again, keeping them from getting a clean look in there, and keeping it from getting there to begin with. So, that might be a tough team to play (entering the playoffs).”
Stevens is right, it could be a tough team to play when the postseason gets underway. But does Tuesday’s contest tell a bigger story?
For example, how will the Celtics combat Miami’s size inside should they have to play them in the second round as the No. 3 vs. No. 4 matchup? Heck, how will the Celtics fare if they run into the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round — a No. 3 vs. No. 6 matchup — a team who has Joel Embiid and Al Horford.
Whether that be by playing stronger defense inside, denying the ball on the block completely or just forcing turnovers, one thing is for sure, the Celtics defense has to be better.
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