“So Many Different Ways They Can Hurt You”: Celtics Coach Sees Similarity Between Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors

Published 09/15/2020, 10:00 AM EDT
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) celebrates with guard Goran Dragic (7) and forward Bam Adebayo (13) after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


The NBA Eastern Conference Finals tip off tonight in the Orlando Bubble. Old rivals Boston Celtics will lock horns with the Miami Heat in Game 1 tonight.

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The Heat are one of the most dangerous teams around and Celtics coach Brad Stevens has compared them to the former champions, the Warriors. He said, “This is probably the closest team in the East that we’ve seen to the Warriors with regard to their cutting and shooting,” Stevens said. “They’re one of the best cutting teams I’ve seen.”

Miami Heat players wall off the court during the halftime in game four of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Stevens added, “You’ve got to guard them as hard as you can. If you’re late, then the [defending] team gets flustered. They start scrambling and you give up layups. You can’t give up layups, you can’t give up open threes, you can’t foul. They’re excellent cutters. They’re physical cutters. There are so many different ways they can hurt you,” he said. “Miami can beat you in isolation. Obviously great from behind the three-point line. They got a number of guys who can go for 25 or 30 in a given game. Super organized. When they sense a weakness, they’re going to pick on it.

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Will this Miami Heat offense overcome the Boston Celtics defense?

The Warriors were known for their excellent and attractive basketball. In an era of three-point shooting, the Heat have been able to balance it out with other plays too. They have mixed their plays with cutting, off-ball movement, and three-pointers.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) celebrates with forward Jae Crowder (99) and forward Kelly Olynyk (9) and guard Goran Dragic (7) and guard Tyler Herro (14) after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in game two of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As Stevens said, the Heat excel at cutting in and were the #1 ranked team in the regular season, with 13.5 points scored via cuts. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have been doing well with cuts and are dangerous on their drives to the rim.

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Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson has been excelling in this system. He excels at off-ball shooting, handoffs and has the awareness to pull off smart backdoor cuts too. With him and Tyler Herro, the Heat have run the most handoff plays too, averaging 10.2 points per game in the regular season and 9.1 points per game in the playoffs.

Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) reacts before being fouled by Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (4) during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat may be emulating the Warriors on offense, but the bigger challenge is to emulate their success. They are now two rounds away from winning their first title since 2013. But it definitely won’t be a cakewalk.

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Aaron Mathew

1537 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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