The Boston Celtics were probably hoping for any outcome aside from the current 0-2 deficit they're facing in heading into the Eastern Conference semifinal Game 3 against the visiting Miami Heat, but all might not be lost for the Celtics.
If NBA history is any indication, the odds are actually in Boston's favor to at least win Game 3, making it a much more manageable 2-1 deficit for Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and the rest of the Celtics to deal with during their second round NBA Playoffs series.
Taking a quick look at the numbers, there have been a total of 90 teams in the exact same situation as the Celtics are right now with 55 of them having won Game 3 in the return to their home arena. Not a bad percentage for those in the audience with their glasses half-full, but it will take quite a bit for the Celtics to turn around the 0-2 start in the seven-game series into the team's fourth trip past the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 23 years.
The biggest thing the Celtics could do, of course, is try to limit the effect that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have had on the series thus far, with the two combining for 61.5 points on 52 percent shooting from the field. It's one thing for James to be emitting that sort of offensive efficiency, but rather surprising that Wade has somehow found out how to score against Boston after averaging just 12.8 points on 28 percent shooting during the two team's four regular season meetings.
Limiting Wade will take a total team effort, though, as his contributions are coming from all over the court. In the Game 2 loss, the Celtics allowed Wade to score 28 points, 11 of which came at the free-throw line simply because the older, slower Boston defense had no choice but to foul him to prevent the easy lay-up (or dunk, as has been the case more often than not this series).
As NBA.com's John Schumann wrote earlier in the week, "The Celtics have the best defensive schemes in the league. But in the first two games, the Heat's talent has trumped the Celtics' schemes. Miami's offense has been rather simple, but plenty effective."
According to Synergy Sports, Wade spread his Game 2 possessions among primarily isolations, pick-and-roll and cutting situations, all of which -- at least at the onset -- forces the Celtics to cover Flash with a single defender. Whether it's Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Delonte West or even Von Wafer, that match-up is just too difficult without the help of a dominant help defender down low.
Reading that past paragraph, some might wonder what exactly changed with the Celtics? How can a team that was able to stifle Wade in all four regular season outings be so overmatched with the same player in the postseason?
That answer, Celtics fans, is something that Rivers, Lawrence Frank and the rest of the coaching staff is looking for -- and will continue looking for -- until Saturday night's 8 p.m. tip for Game 3 on ABC.
If they're able to figure it out, there's a good chance the Celtics could mount a comeback and have the Heat reeling when the two team's return for the *if necessary Game 6 in Boston next Friday night. If not, this might be the end of the current Celtics dynasty as we know it.