So the Heat proved me wrong and really impressed tonight. Go figure there are three big keys to their success tonight. (See what I did there?)
First- Bosh was given extended minutes. His impact on the game did not show up in the boxscore but it was huge. When Chris is on the floor the spacing of Miami’s offense is tremendous. The Celtics rarely guard Haslem, much less Turiaf and Joel Anthony. Bosh keeps you honest with his shooting, driving and passing and that honesty on defense has been the Heat’s big problem in this series. Without that honesty, just throw all five at LeBron and prepare for the rebound. Chris’ spacing also allows for more long rebounds versus the crash the basket style the previous centers had employed in this series. Chris got a few long rebounds and a ball bounced off his leg right to wade for another rebound. His body was just effective at narrowing the rebound margin and giving the Celtics less second shot attempts. Bosh is also much longer than any other player the heat may throw out there so he was better at matching the length of Garnett.
Wade shot less than LeBron and picked his spots LATE which is key. I’ve always felt that LeBron is great at setting a tone early and Wade is better holding onto a lead in the second half. When Miami loses games it’s because Wade commands too much of the offense early and throws off the rhythm of LeBron. If you remember back to LeBron’s Cleveland days, his cavaliers would jump out to an early lead and end up coasting to the finish line. I feel like Wade needs to allow LeBron to get his early and then look for his shot more in the second half.
OK. LeBron went off. It is demoralizing to a team when one guy goes for 30 in the first half and misses one shot. When someone is making everything he throws up, including those tough turn-around fades it’s hard to come back emotionally and hope to win the game.
What I look to see in the final game of this series is a battle between James and Pierce. The dog in Pierce will come out after getting 45 and 15 dropped on him by his biggest rival. James will continue to will his team to victory, if Wade allows it. And the reemergence of Chris Bosh will continue to pay immediate dividends. Rondo will be Rondo (we can say that now, right?) And the Celtics will be ready but I like the Heat at home.
The Thunder close out the spurs in what was a highly anticipated Western Conference Final series. The top seeded spurs were riding a long winning streak (including playoff and regular season games) coming into the series and were playing some of the most beautiful basketball I had ever seen in the first two games of the series, extending their winning streak even further. The thunder looked to be reeling from the early blow the spurs handed them even though they entered the series with confidence knocking off the teams that had sent them out of the playoffs the past two seasons in the Lakers and Mavericks.
The Spurs dominance in the first two games was predicated on sharing the ball and making the beat available play. There was no selfishness on this team as they all just looked to advance to the finals with as much ease as possible. Their stars were playing well and their deep bench was supporting the stars by playing long minutes and providing the deepest rotation in the playoffs.
The Thunder through the first two games looked like a team that was playing hard, but couldn’t overcome the wisdom and playmaking of the more experienced Spurs. They were quick up and down the court, they got their looks at shots but whether it was figuring out what lineup to play in the fourth quarter for Scott Brooks, or simply not being able to close out games they looked as if they were just missing one thing in each loss. But, when the series shifted to Oklahoma City we saw a much different Thunder squad. Credit Scott Brooks for figuring out what lineups to play against the spurs. He was able to go small, and big, and was always able to keep scorers on the floor. Also credit their bench for outplaying the spurs bench in these games as they proved themselves to be serviceable NBA players in their own right.
The contributions by the Thunder bench and Scott Brooks’ ability to create a working rotation we’re what turned the tide of the series and eventually gave the young Oklahoma City players a shot to play in the finals. Also, give credit to Durant for really being fearless and leading a team. He is blossoming into probably the most dominant force in the NBA. He is able to be lethal in the waning minutes of games and get big wins for his squad. I wouldn’t want to face them in the finals, so good luck on your quest to face Durant, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics!
So the Celtics steal yet another game from the more “talented” Heat. Why do the Heat keep losing to the Celts? Because they want to. Maybe it’s not as much of a longing desire to lose, but it’s surely not a will to win. The obvious visual is the energy that Kevin Garnett brings on each and every play, accompanied by a slew of four letter words that could only be rivaled by George Carlin stand-up. His emotion and energy in comparison to the whimpering and crying of Wade tells the story of the series. Garnett’s team is focussed, and don’t have a spare brain cell to worry about a bad call. When the Heat opened up a large lead to start the game the Celtics never got discouraged. They know if they just keep their head in the game and nose to the grindstone they can pull off wins against the over-dramatic Heat squad.
The Heat are showing a new level of immaturity. I thought that we witnessed this by the return of Chris Bosh. Bosh has been sidelined this entire series so he’s had a front row seat to the Celtics games. I thought that he studied the way the Celtics were working against his team and put some of that in his own game. He was working for rebounds, putbacks, and playing the best defense he could. He was acting quickly and decisively on offense like his counterpart Kevin Garnett. Bosh’s team, however, just doesn’t get it. They have been mired in this difficult series and seem to have no perspective on how they are being dismantled. They are complaining about every call and refusing to get back on defense. A mature team would have made some adjustments and would look better in this series. Shame on Miami.
I do not see a way this series returns to Miami. The Celtics will make even more critical adjustments before game 6, and the Heat will remain the team that wishes the title were handed to them. The Heat have to work, look corny, get dirty if they wish to win. If they posture and refuse to do so, the Celtics will march right through to the finals. The Celtics are not worried about which Heat team they will face because the Celtics know what team they are. They are the workers, the grinders, the adapters, and the former Champions.
This is an upstart blog where I will have an opportunity to write about sports, particularly basketball. I am nothing more than an amateur but I hope to make this blog worth reading in the ever-growing NBA blogosphere. Thanks for visiting!