Jenny Rohl/ALOST


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BOSTON — Caleb Martin knew what was coming from the Boston Celtics more than three days before his Miami Heat even took the floor to begin their Eastern Conference Finals rematch, and it would be similar to the same challenge the same opponent threw at him 12 months ago.

What was coming for Martin was…no one. Well, at least when Martin touched the ball on offense. The message was sent: “Do your worst, Caleb!”

The tradeoff for the respect — as well as the blood and sweat — paid by the Celtics defense in their efforts to slow down Heat All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in the Eastern Conference Finals for two years running was the lack of respect for Martin’s jumper and, by proxy, his ability to impact the series in a decisive manner. Unfortunately for the Celtics, Martin prepared for their strategy for almost a calendar year, and he has forced the Celtics to put that respect on his name after the first two games of this series.

Martin continued to star in a supporting role on Friday night, going off for 25 points off the bench and hitting key momentum-seizing shots in Miami’s 111-105 victory over the Celtics inside TD Garden to propel the Heat to a 2-0 series lead and just a couple of more wins from an appearance in the NBA Finals. Martin made 11 of his 16 shots from the floor, including three three-pointers, as he’s averaged an even 20 points per game in the two games in Beantown.

The Celtics’ decision to start their “double big” lineup once again came with the caveat of one of those bigs, the bouncy, All-Defensive caliber center Robert Williams, basically ignoring Martin and instead taking the role of rim protector and repellent for drives to the basket by Butler and Adebayo.

“Everybody has a game plan or a scheme to follow. I get it. When you’re dealing with guys as good as Jimmy, Bam, guys that draw so much attention, you kind of have to pick your poison,” Martin said. “I’m on the short end of the stick when it comes to that. But you know, I welcome that. It’s my job to continue to prove to people that I can be the guy to do that.”

Martin could not wait to prove that the player the Celtics thought of as an afterthought — and who scored a combined 44 points in six games played in last year’s matchup — would be front-and-center in dethroning the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as he’s scored 40 points combined in Games 1 and 2 this week.

“One thing Caleb told me was, ‘This is not last year,'” Adebayo said. “That really resonated with me, because they did the same thing to him last year. I feel like he felt like it was disrespectful.”

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Tags : Boston CelticsMiami HeatNational Basketball AssociationNBA Playoffs

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