Heat-Celtics Game 2 preview: X-factors and needed adjustments

The Miami Heat have a chance to steal Game 2 in Boston. Here's what they'll need to do to pull off the upset.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

After a blowout loss Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat are looking to bounce back against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Even though Sunday's performance may have left a sour taste in the mouths of fans, one thing you know is that Erik Spoelstra will make some adjustments. They'll need them.

In order to make a statement, there will have to be other players besides Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Jaime Jaquez Jr. who step up to match Boston's firepower.

These are the Heat's X-factors who can help create an edge against the Celtics in Game 2.

1. Kevin Love

Kevin Love has been a consistently reliable asset for Miami, especially in playoff situations. In only 13 minutes in Game 1, Love had seven points on 3 for 4 shooting, four rebounds and two assists. Love’s veteran status was also evident when he was in the game.

During Game 1, the Heat put a lot of weight on many inexperienced players' shoulders such as Jaime Jaquez Jr, Haywood Highsmith and others. Due to the inexperience on the floor, having a player with extensive experience like Love can change the dynamic of the game.

Love was a key asset during the Cavalier's epic championship comeback against the Warriors in 2016, when they were down 3-1. Despite the 114-94 blowout on Sunday, the majority of Love’s minutes came when the Heat were keeping it a competitive game in the opening quarter. He was able to nail a three along with a post-fade shot that cut the Celtics' lead to five. 

In addition to his experience, while he does not have the athleticism he used to have, he still has the ability to stretch the court. Love has been shooting exceptionally well from behind the arc, and that is exactly what the Heat are going to need to keep up with the Celtics. Love shot 34.4% from three during the regular season, and in his last five games, he has shot 38.9%. If Miami can get him going, he can help bring defenders out to the perimeter, which can open opportunities for Bam in the paint, along with opening up cutting lanes to the basket. 

2. Delon Wright

With the absence of Terry Rozier and Duncan Robinson not being 100%, the Heat were clearly lacking shooters. They went 12 of 37 from three, shooting only 32.4%. Despite the team's struggles, Delon Wright went 5 for 5 from downtown. 

Wright started to look more comfortable in the second half when he helped propel a Heat run. They were down by as many as 31 points and cut the lead to just 14 late in the fourth quarter. Wright's ability to catch fire from deep is something he will have to carry over into Game 2. 

3. Defensive adjustments

In addition to players stepping up, the Heat will also have to make some major changes on the defensive end of the court. Spoelstra’s specialty is his ability to deploy confusing defenses that can throw an elite team's rhythm off. That was not the case Sunday afternoon. For the majority of the game the Heat were utilizing their zone defense. It didn't work. The defense couldn't contain the Celtics' elite three-point shooting, as they went 22 for 49 from downtown, shooting 44.9% on nearly 50 attempts. 

What stood out from the Heat’s defense was players being late on their rotations. One of the best aspects of the Heat's defense is their ability to take away driving lanes with their help defense, but this strategy completely backfired. It’s difficult to double against such a lethal shooting team because it creates open shots for others.

If the Heat are going to double, then they have to be better with their rotations (especially when closing out in the corner). The Celtics did a spectacular job with their ball movement. They swung the ball from one side of the court to the other quickly until they found the open man. This is how they blew the game open in the first half. 

The Celtics are a tough team to play defense against in general, but they easily adjusted to the zone defense. Spoelstra is going to make adjustments with his defensive coverages, but with whatever strategy he uses, players are going to have to be fully aware of their rotation assignment. Every player on the court for the Celtics, whether a bench player or starter, has the ability to shoot the three-pointer very well, and if you give them any space, they will knock it down.  

The Celtics are clearly the more talented team. However, that hasn’t stopped the Heat in the past from finding a way to win. The Heat have a chance to make a crucial statement in Game 2 and turn the tides in the series.