The Heat have “finally” broke through and beat the Boston Celtics. Everyone can sigh, and breathe a breath of relief. Well, that is if you’re a Heat fan. But did anyone seriously think this team was not going to win a game against the Celtics? What about if the two teams square off in the playoffs, did everyone really think that the Celtics were going to have the Heat’s number in the postseason, too?
The Heat are 1-4 against the team that went to the Finals last season. The other three games were all Celtic wins, but the point differential at the end of those games was never greater than 8 points – and that was the first game of the season. Not the first time these two teams matched up, but the very first game to kick off the 2010-2011 season. The Heat had all of a preseason to integrate Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller and a slew of other new faces into the team’s playbook. Not to mention, Dwyane Wade’s preseason injury kept him from participating in practices as did Mario Chalmers.
Excuses aside, the Heat lost the first game to the Celtics 88-80. They shot terribly, 36.5%, while the Celtics shot a respectable 46.4%. The second game was played in Miami, and the Celtics got off to a quick start and built up a lead of 20 points in that game. The Heat answered back, rallying to within 5 points once the clock expired at the end of the game. Ray Allen hit his first 7 three point attempts and Rajon Rondo continued to feed the detractors of the Heat saying they couldn’t stop any elite point guard. (Yes, they were referring to Rondo with the term “elite”.) Game 3 the Heat lost 85-82, hardly a large point differential but the record was what everyone in the media was concerned about citing the fact that the Heat still couldn’t get past the Celtics.
Today, in the largest differential in this series this year, the Heat broke through with a 23 point lead at the end of regulation. The finger-pointing will already start and now it is the Celtics, and not the Heat, that are being targeted for scrutiny.Kevin Garnett and friends started filing out early before the game clock sounded the end of the game, further illustrating the frustration the Celtics are feeling these days.
So, what went wrong? Kendrick Perkins wasn’t there, some will say. The Perkins trade has been cited for every problem save the government shutdown and the problems in Libya these days. In all seriousness, the Celtics did themselves no favors when they said that they lost the Finals because they didn’t have Perk. Now, they don’t have Perk and they can’t win games (14-11 since “the trade”). Really?
Looking at the three previous games against the Heat, Perkins only played in one of those games – game 3. And although he did have a factor in the game, playing 31 minutes, the result wasn’t all that spectacular (85-82). Celtic fans will try to make an excuse out of the Perkins trade, and vituperate Danny Ainge for it, but the fact of the matter is, the Celtics won without him and frankly, had very little need for him. There were questions whether or not the Celtics would be able to retain Perkins past these season anyway and so they chose to look to the future. The only team in the East with a legit big man in the paint is Orlando anyway. Try again, Celtic fans and media. It wasn’t Perkins absence that cost the Celtics this game.
Well, maybe it was rebounding. After all, the Celtics did have Jermaine O’neal and Shaq to help beef up their front court (not to mention they acquired Nenad Kristic for Perkins). They clearly had a rebounding advantage and that is what cost them today’s game. Nope, try again.
The Heat only were +4 in rebounding today against the Celtics. In the previous three games? Game 1 the Celtics were +6, in Game 2 both teams broke even, and in Game 3 the Heat had a +1 advantage – but still lost! So, the only game where the Celtics had a clear cut advantage was Game 1 and they only won that game by 8 points. Again, the Heat were +4 today and won by 23 points.
Still befuddled? You should be. The Heat have played excellent defense all year long. The games they lost to the Celtics were really anyone’s game (except Game 2 but the Heat whittled that 20 point lead down to 5, making a very scary threat to the Celtics as they escaped from Miami). The deciding factors for games like those comes down to very small details, very minor elements that may play out in a game. Really what it points to is that the Heat weren’t ready to beat the Celtics because they were still ironing out the kinks.
Today, the Celtics have some kinks to work out as they have new personnel on their squad, too. That said, the problem isn’t that the Celtics are trying to adjust to new guys, but rather they are just outmatched when they take the court against the Heat. And, the rest of the league will soon find this out, too.
This game is very simple, no matter what the pundits try to tell you. They want to sell airspace for advertising and the only way they can keep you interested is to keep you confused and try to sell controversy. With this Heat team, you won’t need to look for that. All you need to know is that this game is determined by 5 guys on the floor at one time for each team and the team that manipulates the best matchups wins. Can any team really say it has a better duo that Lebron James and Dwyane Wade?
Think about it. Last year, the Celtics were underdogs when going up against Lebron’s Celtics. That was Lebron basically by himself on the Cavs. Now, if they make it that far, the Celtics will be facing not just Lebron but Wade in the post season. Can they beat the Heat four times in a series? Also, consider the fact that the Heat are looking to secure the #2 spot in the East which gives them home court advantage (until they reach the conference finals).
Can anyone really matchup, let alone beat, this team 4 games out of 7? Today, we saw why it is going to be hard to beat the Heat.