Michael Beasley, to say the least, struggled in Game One of the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat playoff series. Besides a nice putback dunk Beasley did, oh, just about nothing. Six points, eight rebounds, five turnovers. Not exactly what the Heat expected from Beasley when they made him the number two pick in last year’s NBA Draft.
“You don’t want to put too much pressure on somebody, but we need more out of Michael,” Dwyane Wade told the Miami Herald after Beasley’s underwhelming performance. “It’s simple as that. He’s our, quote-unquote, second-best player, and we need him to be that.”
Beasley said his poor game was nobody’s fault but his own. “I know what I have to do now,” Beasley said after yesterdsay’s practice. “I’m going to come out in Game 2, Game 3, Game 4 and be a whole lot more aggressive.”
In Game Two, at least, it should help Beasley that Kevin Garnett will be out with a suspension. Garnett’s absence will have plenty of impact on his own team, but Beasley stands to be the one with the most to gain from the suspension. It isn’t that Garnett should be so difficult for Beasley to score on; in his diminished state, KG is still a formidable defender but should struggle to defend young, athletic power forwards like Beasley. Beasley should be able to score whether Garnett’s in the game or not but, without KG, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis will be forced to defend Beasley. Neither is a good matchup for the versatile and skilled Beasley. Beasley should run circles around Wallace and have his way with Davis, too.
For Beasley, life without KG should be far simpler. In Game One, Garnett’s antics — the constant cussing and physicality — took Beasley out of his game. “He got to me,” said Beasley. Garnett just added to Beasley’s normal confusion. “There’s a lot of confusion for Michael, at times,” Wade said. “He has to find a way to make the game as easy on himself as possible and not make it tough.”
One foolproof method for a quick power forward to make the game easy is being defended Rasheed Wallace. I know it’s playoff time now, and Rasheed vows the postseason is his time, but he lacks the mobility and stamina to be effective against a quick player like Beasley. If Beasley wants to, he should be able to get to the rim at will. Sweep through, attack, layup. Put the previous sentence on repeat. Against Rasheed, it should be that easy. And Glen Davis won’t provide much more resistance than Sheed.
“I’m not going to say [Garnett] intimidated [Beasley],” Wade said. “Possibly he got to him and made him speed up his game because he’s talking to him. Michael’s first instinct to that is to attack.
“Sometimes you feel you’re being challenged and you respond by attacking. That’s not the way for him to go. He’s got to think.”
I don’t know how much Beasley will be thinking tomorrow night during Game Two, and I don’t know what he’ll be thinking. But I do know this:
Beasley should kiss Quentin Richardson right on the lips for drawing Garnett’s suspension-inducing elbow. With only Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis standing between him and the basket, Michael Beasley should have a hell of a Game Two.
Then again, last time Garnett sat against the Heat (January 6 — the Rondo alley-oop/overtime game), Beasley had only 5 points and 5 rebounds. I guess, no matter who’s defending him, Beasley’s just a box of chocolates.