I'm not buying stock in the Heat! They will most likely knock out the Celtics in six, but I'm not buying that they're a title team with or without Chris Bosh. Perhaps Erik Spoelstra had a Freudian slip in his post game press conference, but when your coach utters the phrase, "We continue to reinvent ourselves this series," you’re having an identity crisis. If you're the Heat, with Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on tap, it’s a little late for reinvention. That’s something over-35 pop stars do, not teams contending for an NBA title.
For two years I thought Coach Spo was in similar company with Chris Bosh — he would be the sacrificial lamb should the Heat not reach their promised destination of an NBA title. LeBron James is putting together one of the greatest playoff runs in NBA history, having played 625 minutes this postseason with an eFG% of 52.2 and cumulative +/- of 133. For a point of comparison, the MVP runner-up (Kevin Durant) has logged 533 minutes, has an eFG% of 54.7, yet a cumulative +/- of just 79.
While those numbers alone don't completely tell the story, his clutch stats this postseason do. LeBron has seen a statical rise in every category in the final five minutes of game less one: eFG%, where he's shooting just 37.5%. The reason for that, however, might be a bit more convoluted than one might think. In the final two minutes, the Miami offense becomes incredibly predictable: isolation, clear outs, and weak attempts at pick-and-rolls. Whether the Heat don't trust their coach for a seemingly interesting social reason as Jason Whitlock suggested is something we can and will probably debate until we're blue in the face.
I just can't buy into the Heat. I could be proven a fool, but I’m just not buying. It's got nothing to do with their bench, it's got nothing to do with James and Wade working together, and it's got nothing to do with their defense, which were all part of my reservations about them last year. I can't buy the Heat winning a title this year because I'm not sure who they are.
When you think of the Celtics you think Doc Rivers, hard screens, a swarming defense, and now Rajon Rondo. When you think of the Spurs you think of Gregg Popovich, an offensive system that's built around movement, spacing and their big three. Even the young Thunder seem to have found an identity this postseason, which was on full display Saturday night. Instead of just handing the ball to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and letting them work, they are still a team that shoots way too many jump shots, yet now seem to find a way to get Durant the ball in more space for at least easier looks.
I'm not hatin' on the Heat. Yes, Miami is one rattled three ball from being up in this series 3-1, yes they are playing without one of their best players in Chris Bosh, and yes they have two of the best five players in the NBA, but still. They will probably beat the Celtics, but can anyone tell me with definitive certainty that they've out-played Boston in the totality of this series? I don't remember Russell or Bird's Celtics, any of the Lakers dynasties, or Duncan's Spurs finding themselves down by 18 or more in multiple playoff games, and then just flipping a switch to turn things around. With the series shifting to back to Miami, the Heat should be able to throw enough of a haymaker to deliver their Mortal Kombat-finishing move in Game 6 in Boston. Still, tell me the last championship team in any sport for whom you couldn't prophetically point out just who and what they are. So again — just who are the Miami Heat?
Boston’s ‘‘others’‘ starting to assert themselves
While Kevin Garnett is putting up double-double after double-double, the part of this series which has gone somewhat overlooked has been the Boston bench, who have been able to help hold the line.
On the road you can't count on your role players; those are games in which your stars do what they do. But at home, that's when "the others" need to insert their DNA into a game. As the series shifted back to Boston, that's precisely what the Celtics got from Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, and Mikael Pietrus. (Brandon Bass, you’re up.) The Celtics bench has been anemic during the playoffs, but with a minor tinker to his rotation, Doc Rivers may have found something with Marquis Daniels. While Pietrus is giving the C's a strong effort defensively, his offense has been dreadful; he seemingly couldn't hit water if he was wading in the Charles River. He's shooting just 39 percent (eFG%) in the postseason, which is not something you want from your spark off the bench.
Marquis Daniels isn't going to win you a playoff game. He might not even be able to give you a consistent performance in back-to-back games. Yet in this series his skillset, particularly his defensive aptitude, ability to move without the ball, and finish at the rim is exactly what Boston needs. The stats on Daniels can be misleading because of such a small sample size, yet Miami's OFF EFF drops from 107.2 to 90.6 when Daniels is on the floor and Boston’s offense gets easier shots around the basket.
Keyon Dooling has also been able to augment some of what Avery Bradly was able to do. The Celtics bench hasn't been consistently able to outscore Miami's, yet with the reemergence of Ray Allen over the past two games and the energy that Dooling and Daniels have been able to inject on the perimeter, the Celtics’ "others" might be the key to push the Heat to seven.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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