You can still hear the teeth gnashing and moans of despair from what transpired at TD Garden on Sunday versus the Boston Celtics. What transpired was a combination of terrible shooting, bad decision making, and poor passing at times with a sprinkle of terrible officiating. These things happen. In a game on the road versus a championship caliber opponent, it is just not uncommon. It is to be expected.
The folks over at Heat Index (ESPN.com) have done a rather solid job covering the team this season, and one of their most valuable contributors Tom Haberstroh wrote a great article detailing the real reason this game was lost. The main point his article makes is that the Miami Heat shot a poor 10-34 on shots from outside of 16 feet. it really is as simple as that. The Heat did not hit open shots it gained from it’s offense. They were miserable from three and none of their designated snipers (House, Miller, Jones) could be credited with a “good game”. The Heat stood their ground in the paint and won the rebounding battle. The Heat defended all spots on the court equally as efficient, save for the breakdowns in the 3rd quarter. So sometimes, the simplest explanation is correct.
What does this Bode for the future?
Nothing. Put aside national media personalities making absolute asses of themselves such as Fox Sports Bill Reiter proclaiming that this result is some type of death sentence. Those guys are trying to stir conversation, and do not pass the giggle test. It is not opinion driven conviction, it is hysteria and ignorance driving a statement. In 2006, Tim Cowlishaw, writer for the Dallas Morning News basically crowned the Dallas Mavericks after a 2-0 series start in the finals, making statements such as “They don’t belong” (The Miami Heat). We know how that turned out. That was out of observing the Mavericks IN A SERIES taking a commanding 2-0 lead versus the team he was making the statement about.
So why or can it be different in the playoffs? Well, for one, in the playoffs, teams actually game plan extensively for each other and you get to concentrate on the aspects of the game you are deficient against your opponent. Rim attacking wings tend to get the benefit of the doubt versus jump shooters. That is what Pat Riley banked on when he built this team. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Dwyane Wade and Lebron James will combine to average 20 free throws a game in a prospective series versus the Boston Celtics. The final point to be made is that we have seen it before. It is rather common to see a team dominate in the regular season and then be dealt a humiliating loss in the playoffs by the team it dominated earlier. In 05-06, the Nets dominated the Miami Heat in the regular season, as did the Pistons and Mavericks. The Heat then thoroughly dominated the Nets and Pistons in the playoffs, then defeated the Mavs 4-2 to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. As early as last year, the Orlando Magic won the season series 3-1 versus these same Celtics and then got embarrassed by them in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Playoffs are a different animal. The Heat’s team construction is conducive to playoff success.
If there is one thing that we can gleam is this. It is becoming rather apparent that Home Court Advantage will be important, if not for any other reason than the officials tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the home team in the playoffs. That is what will make this home stretch rather entertaining as the Heat push the Celtics to play at 100% to hold their top spot. No coasting allowed is the theme of this season so far. Don’t think that is not part of the overall long term strategy. How healthy can the Celtics be when the time comes anyway?