With the torch about to be passed — not willingly, but it may happen Wednesday night anyway — the Miami Heat are paying homage.
They told Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN that without what Boston did in forming it’s big three back in the summer of 2007 — Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen coming to join Paul Pierce — what they wanted to do would never have happened.
“They set the blueprint for us when they decided to make the trade for [Kevin Garnett] and for Ray [Allen],” James said. “Seeing guys make sacrifices to come together and play as one. They set the blueprint and went out there and did it. They won a championship. They competed every year.”
“With LeBron losing to Boston in Cleveland in the playoffs, he felt like, ‘I gotta do more, I need to be around more to contend for a championship,’ ” Wade said. “Me feeling the same way going into the summer, saying that I needed more, it was because of Boston. They knocked us out.”
The three veterans of the Celtics seemed to blend from day one, coming out hot that first season together and never real cooling off until they were raising the Larry O’Brien trophy over their heads.
It was not like that for the Heat, they struggled to find what worked for them. They did it under a brighter spotlight than the Celtics, hearing about every misstep.
But they have figured it out now. And they are very close to grabbing the torch away from their inspiration.
This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.
The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.
With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.
Emphasis on “almost.”
The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.
The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.
After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.
Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.
The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.