First and foremost congratulations are in order for the Miami Heat. They have been criticized, laughed at, and flat out despised by most of the league. Miami did a difficult thing and that was defeat the class of the Eastern Conference in the Boston Celtics. The final score shows a Heat win by 10 points but the majority of that cushion came in the final moments when the game was decided. The series boiled down to the recurring theme of too much Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Wade finished with 34 points (13-19 shooting), 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. LeBron James tallied 33 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5-7 from three. I list almost their entire stat lines to show the type of effort they needed to end the Celtic season with a 97-87 win. The Heat used a 16-0 run in the final 4:29 of the fourth quarter to end the Celtics turbulent season.
This game was in a lot of ways a carbon copy of Game 4. Boston clung to the lead most of the game but the sense that the other shoe was going to drop remained prevalent and inevitable. Coach Erik Spoelstra kept telling his guys to grind it out even going so far as to make churning motions with his hands on the sidelines. Wade kept the Heat in the game for 3 quarters and just wouldn’t miss as Miami never trailed by more than 10. Boston finished the game shooting 49% but their offense went dormant down the stretch. AGAIN. The 16-0 run to close out the game started with a James Jones 3 pointer which would be his only points of the contest. With Boston up 87-82 with just under 4 minutes to play, a defensive lapse on a Miami fast break left Jones wide open to cut the lead down to two at 87-85. Then like an assassin waiting in the weeds LeBron unleashed a masterful 4th quarter that included a personal 10-0 James run. Boston was helpless. Let me say this and be very clear. If LeBron James continues to make contested off balanced 3′S with the shot clock winding down, the Heat will not loose another playoff game. But it was that James Jones 3 that was the catalyst. That shot opened the flood gates and clearing the path for Miami to reach the Eastern Conference Finals
Boston finished the game with the unfamiliar lineup of Delonte West, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, and Kevin Garnett on the floor. That inexperienced Celtic lineup scored just 14 points in the quarter. They turned the ball over multiple times and settled for jumpers instead of attacking the basket like the Heat. Miami shot 38 free throws while Boston only made it to the line 20 times. There were bad calls both ways but Miami stayed aggressive hence the nearly doubled free throw attempts. With Rajon Rondo non-aggressive due to injury and Jermaine O’neal nursing a stiff back, the Celtic sideline looked like a triage unit for most of the game. Doc Rivers was forced to deploy a lineup that was not completely made up of “his guys” as he eluded to in the post game press conference. In a way he hasn’t had his guys since the trade deadline but that spilled milk has long since spoiled and no longer holds weight in an argument.
Boston’s window for banner 18 is all but closed with this aging group. Doc made mention to wanting to return to coach next season after much speculation that he would take sometime off. Rivers was quick to mention this is his desire to come back was how he felt “today” so there are no guarantees. Rivers also mentioned that Boston needs to add guys. Again eluding to the fact that this current group isn’t good enough. The argument of not having enough time to gel these pieces seems to fall on deaf ears. These are just the wrong pieces. Jeff Green, Glen Davis, and Nenad Krstic are all free agents and Shaquille O’neal is all but retired (so we hope). If Davis and Green want to return to this team it sure didn’t show in their play over the course of this series.
How and with who will Danny Ainge replenish this weary roster? Ainge took a shot at the trade deadline and missed badly but it now falls on his shoulders to right his wrong and figure out where this proud franchise is heading next. We witnessed LeBron and Wade embrace in a way that is usually shared by teammates who won the NBA Championship as the buzzer sounded at the end of Game 5. They know what they did was not easy. The Celtics must now shift gears and play catch up to the team that will probably be the 2011 NBA Champions. I just hope Danny Ainge is taking notes.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com