The Eastern Conference Finals series between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics is a 'chess match' set to go the full seven games, says BBL legend Mike Tuck.
'Celtics will adjust in Game 2'
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, you could not have asked for anything better - an overtime win [for the Heat] with a huge block at the end. But I think this is a seven-game series. And I do not know which way it is going to go.
This [series] is going to be a chess match. In Erik Spoelstra and Brad Stevens, you have two of the league's best coaches at studying film and making adjustments on the fly.
We saw the Heat and Celtics go toe to toe in Game 1, but I don't think either team played particularly well. That resulted in an overtime thriller with Boston's best player (Jayson Tatum) going for a game-winning dunk and being blocked by arguably the best player on the Heat (Bam Adebayo). It was an absolutely unreal play!
The game plan for the Heat in Game 1 was to attack Kemba Walker, get the ball out of his hands and make him make decisions. This is not like the previous series against the Raptors where Kemba could attack a bigger, slower true center like Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka. Bam brings to the Miami Heat what the Toronto Raptors could not bring [against the Celtics]. The Raptors had older, slower, bigger guys whereas Bam is super-active.
You could see it from the jump in Game 1, Adebayo was aggressively hedging on those screens. Miami were trapping or switching. Bam can stay in front of a guard for multiple seconds of a possession.
For Boston, this Conference Finals series is going to be about adjustments. How do they adjust to Miami's use of zone defense? How will they attack it? Which specific Heat players will they target to attack?
I see the Boston edging Game 2 based on what they will have learned from the opening game loss. I feel like the Celtics have a bounce-back in them.
What specific adjustments will Boston make? They have to learn from Miami's defensive schemes and the trapping they used against Walker. The Celtics could try to use Walker off the ball a bit more with Jaylen Brown seeing more of the ball. Boston's shot selection must be better, too. They shot 15-of-42 from three-point range in Game 1.
'Herro cementing spot in Heat rotation'
Another major feature of Game 1 was the amount of playing time Heat rookie Tyler Herro received.
Duncan Robinson has been huge for Miami but he and Goran Dragic are their defensive liabilities - although the Heat can get away with it because they also have Butler, Adebayo and Jae Crowder in their starting line-up, who are all very switchable. Miami can hide Robinson and Dragic on defense as a result.
But Robinson picked up two fouls in the opening three minutes of Game 1, ticky-tack fouls. That was when Herro got the call to enter the game. He almost had a triple-double and made huge shots down the stretch. That is going to cement his spot in the rotation ahead of the other Heat rotation and bench guys.
Herro is a reliable shooter who can hit big shots in big situations. And he is a playmaker, too.
'Heat can rely on Butler and Dragic'
Miami know they can always get a bucket out of Jimmy Butler or, at the very least, he will get to free throw line because of his ability to slash. He does not really force shots and his timing is great as well.
Does Butler's commitment to driving to the hoop at vital moments in games rather than settling for long-range jump shots a product of his experience? One-hundred per cent. The ability to draw fouls is a skill in itself. It takes a lot of basketball IQ, timing and body control. It is also what you need in a tightly-contested series. When the game gets tight, you can rely on Butler with the ball in his hands because he will get into the lane and, if he is not finishing, he will draw a foul, if not an 'And 1'.
People sleep on Goran Dragic all the time. Everybody forgets the amount of experience he has. He has been in the league 12 years now, he's been an All-Star, he has been on an All-NBA third team. He is a savvy 'vet', has a great eye for the game and he can score in bunches.
The Heat had a very slow start to Game 1 with Robinson's foul trouble and not making shots but Dragic was letting it fly. He is not afraid to shoot the big shot and can knock them down from long-range. But he is also a creator for other guys. That's why he is in the starting line-up. He is solid and he is reliable.
Get NBA news on your phone
Want the latest NBA news, features and highlights on your phone? Find out more
Is Dragic as important a component for Miami as their headline-grabbing stars? I think so. He has worked really hard and deserves to be here taking the Heat as far in the playoffs as possible.
Watch Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics Game 2 live on Sky Sports Arena late on Thursday night (midnight)