Ime Udoka, Miami Heat’s second-ranked player, and Boston Celtics are trying to ‘combat their aggressiveness’

BOSTON — The CelticsThey pride themselves in being the most physical team in every match. Since taking over as coach, Ime Udoka insists on this trait and played a major role in Boston's remarkable midseason turnaround.

However, through three games in these Eastern Conference semifinals the Celtics have allowed them to win. Miami HeatThis series will determine the terms of engagement in regards to physicality and aggression. When the Heat have succeeded in getting into Celtics, the results have been terrible: a 39-14 drubbing during the third quarter of Game 1 and a 39-18 shellacking during the first quarter.

Miami has risen to a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-7 series heading into Game 4, here at TD Garden on Monday night. The Celtics will have to match Miami’s intensity moving forward to make it to the NBA Finals.

After Sunday's practice, Ime Udoka, Celtics coach said that the team had just had an excellent session. He also noted how physical and aggressive the players were. “We were kinda caught off guard by this. I could have done better coaching and preparing us for this. It was something I repeated quite often, but it was also mentioned by the team.

“Miami is a historically strong team. I have played against them for 10+ years. They try harder and are more physically oriented. It wasn't just a lot of adjustments. It's increasing their physicality. Marcus mentioned it before the match, Al mentioned it and I mentioned it. So it was disappointing to be caught unaware of what they were going to do. This is something we need to improve on. We were able to see what they did and the similarities we do with other teams. There are ways that we can attack this and counter some of their aggression.

It is irrelevant that the Heat have only won the third quarters of Game 1 and Game 3 in this series. However, what is important is how Miami won these quarters. Both times, the Heat got in on the Celtics' physicality. They made Boston feel uncomfortable. They made the Celtics make quicker decisions than they would have liked.

As a result, the Heat were capable of forcing one turnover after the other — allowing them out in transition and boosting their offense. This, given Miami's weakness with half court offensive sets is critical to the Heat's chances at winning this series.

Because the Heat were able generate 19 steals, those turnovers led to a stunning 33 point game in Game 3. Miami's ability is due to the same problem: Boston allowed Miami complete disruption in how it plays, with devastating consequences.

Celtics guard: Payton Pritchard said. “When you're driving, keep your feet on the ground. There were 19 steals so there were a lot of live ball turnovers. If we can reduce those, we should be able to do fine.

They have done a great job of limiting the number of players in this series. The times they haven't been able to do this have been so costly that they now trail 2-1 in the series. They are currently alternating wins with their opponent after having done so for six of the six games against them. Milwaukee BucksIn the Eastern Conference semifinals.

What's the difference? Miami is the East's #1 seed. They have home court. If the Celtics fail to find a way to reduce Miami's physicality advantage in Game 4, they could be returning to Biscayne Bay, where their season is at stake in Game 5.

Williams responded, “Keep level-headed,” when Williams was asked about how the Celtics have survived the highs and lows of the playoffs. “No matter what happens, regardless of whether it's big wins or big losses, you must play it the right way. It can't be allowed to continue. It's currently 2-1 and we are playing in front of our Garden fans. We can make it 2-2.

It's one of those situations where we can still control our destiny. We must be more confident and more aware of the goals we have set for ourselves. Like a regular season, there will be peaks, valleys, and success. But the best teams work together and do their best to understand that the same thing cannot beat you twice.

Boston spent Sunday looking for new ways to get around the problem. Jayson TatumThere is more to it. Tatum went 3-for-14 (Game 3) and only took four shots in Game 2. He made none of those in the second half.

Udoka explained that Tatum needs to be able to get off the ball look more often. This will allow him to avoid Miami's physical defenders (led by PJ Tucker) and allows him to play better. Tatum also needs to trust his teammates in making plays and shooting shots. Tatum will be able to take advantage of those opportunities if he does.

Udoka stated, “Off-ball actions have always been successful for him, regardless of whether he's screener or some flares. Because they are loading up upon him every time they have the ball, but also understanding they're guarding them like this.” He has had great playoff series. He's going to be chased by teams so he wants to get the guys involved early. As he makes those passes, and makes those reads, defense is always open to him and he can start getting going.

The Celtics will have to try to even the series, while also navigating some injuries. Marcus SmartUdoka reported that Game 3's sprain victim, Corey, briefly left the game with swelling in his right leg. Udoka and the team will assess how he responded to treatment, as well as how the ankle looks Monday morning ahead of the game.

The same goes for center Robert Williams, who missed Game 3. He was suffering from knee soreness. Udoka claimed that Williams would be able to continue playing on a day-to-day basis through the remainder of the playoffs. Udoka said Williams felt better on Sunday. However, Williams' treatment and reaction to the soreness would determine his ability to play in Game 4. Tatum was fine, however, after he had to leave Game 3 due to a shoulder stinger during the fourth quarter.

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