Tag: Boston Miami

Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce

Boston is making this playoff run without practices


This is how you handle a veteran team that knows what is needed in the playoffs. Doc Rivers gets it.

Boston is making a longer playoff run than everyone not wearing green-tinted glasses expected, and they are doing it without traditional practices. From the New York Times.

Rajon Rondo joked last week that he thought the last time the team had a real practice was “probably like nine months ago.” He is not that far off.

The last time the Celtics practiced was before the start of the playoffs in April — and that was only because they were given an extra day between the end of the regular season and the start of their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks. They have done nothing in the playoffs but watch film and go through game plans on day-of-game shootarounds. It is Allen Iverson’s ideal situation.

Frankly, there are fewer practices during an NBA season than fans realize — there just isn’t time with travel and games. That was particularly true this season. Still, this speaks to a coach who has the pulse of his team.

After five seasons and playoffs together (at least the core), this team knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. What matters more than drills is health — keeping the older legs fresh, letting the bumps and bruises from playoff dives to the floor for loose balls heal up. You watch film, you talk and walk through strategy, then you trust that your veterans know how to apply that come game time.

You treat them like adults, not high schoolers. It is how Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich coach, and it’s worked out pretty well for those two.

Heat-Celtics Game 6: It has to be LeBron/Wade show for Heat to survive

Miami Heat's James and Wade react after a play against the Boston Celtics during the first half in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoffs in Boston

In all the schadenfreude over watching the Miami Heat lose and seem to unravel, one thing seems to be consistently overlooked — the Boston Celtics are a really good defensive team. They were second in the league in points allowed per possession, they blow up pick-and-rolls, they are tough to score on in isolation. They slow down everyone. They were going to slow down the Heat.

But if LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are really on there is no defense that can stop them.

And that’s what this series has come down to for the Heat — they need LeBron and Wade to be exceptional to win. Not good, like combining to score 57 points on 47 shots in Game 5, they need to be world beaters. Both of them. Every game. They need to put up 65 at least between them and hope that Chris Bosh can pitch in more (he will play more).

Those two especially are going to have to do that on the road in Game 6 because the Heat can’t count on anyone else. If they are going to force a Game 7 it will because the Heat’s stars carried Game 6.

Boston’s offense has looked solid enough the last few games against the Heat, most of that due to Rajon Rondo. He is running the pick-and-roll beautifully with Kevin Garnett (getting KG easy looks rolling to the rim or open spot up 18 footers), he is hitting a few outside shots and he is controlling the flow of this series. Throw in some good buckets from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and it’s good enough.

Miami is helping out with defensive lapses — often ones of effort. How many times did the old legs of Boston just outrun the Heat players down he floor in Game 5? Dwyane Wade was not alone but was the most prominent guy just getting beat down court, forced into bad matchups because of it that Rondo and the Celtics exploit. That’s not on coach Erik Spoelstra, either — if you can’t get fired up for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to bust it every single play there is nothing a coach can do.

Remember, the Heat entered this season wanting to up the tempo — play pressing defense, force turnovers, get out in transition and overwhelm with their athleticism. We saw that kind of defense in Game 1 and the second half of Game 4 from Miami, but that’s it. It was supposed to be their identity, but it isn’t. Not every game, not every play. The committment and effort are not there.

And at the end of the day, that is what this series is about. Boston is a good team that will play good defense and give you maximum effort every night. They will be the best team they can be.

Miami plays like it can flip the switch. But that switch almost never stays on for a full game. They will have a fantastic quarter then go back to coasting on both ends, something they can still win doing in the regular season but it leads to bad habits. The Heat are very self-conscious and that can throw off their confidence in a heartbeat. The Celtics will just put their head down and fight through those kinds of stretches.

Which is why you have to think Boston has the edge at home – this will be their best effort, best game of the series. That’s still not good enough to beat Miami’s best, but do you really think we’ll see that for 48 minutes at both ends of the floor? Do you really think this is the night Wade and LeBron both show up and play their best games? I’m just not sold.

Meet the “good job, good effort” kid. He was being genuine.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Five

Twitter was all over it as soon as the moment above was aired — “good job, good effort” quickly became a punch line, the joking t-shirt, an email signature line, a sarcastic joke among basketball fans.

But it wasn’t a joke to 9-year-old Jack Meyer who was saying it.

In a cynical world where we would only have said that sarcastically, to be a Celtics troll on a Heat team that just dropped Game 5 at home, this young boy was being a true fan. You know, like you used to be once. He loves his team and was trying to be supportive in their darkest hour. He was genuine.

The Sun-Sentinel found and caught up with Meyer.

“For those people who thought I was being sarcastic, you’re wrong,” Meyer said at his family’s Coral Gables home Wednesday. “I was being enthusiastic. I was saying the truth. I would never hurt the Heat’s feelings like that.”

“Based on their expressions, they didn’t seem happy being beaten by four points. I wanted to cheer them up,” he said. “I really meant it.”

There was a time when we all were pure fans like that, a window that now may be shortened by the Internet. But I, for one, hope Meyer holds on to that as long as he can. The sports world — and the world in general — could use more of that and fewer cynical trolls.

Video: Spoelstra, Bosh, Rondo talk Boston Game 5 win

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gestures to Rajon Rondo in the second quarter as the Celtics play the Miami Heat during Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoffs in Miami, Florida
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Above you see some highlights of the post-game press conferences in Miami after Boston came in and stole Game 5, taking a 3-2 series lead (with the chance to close it out at home Thursday).

Erik Spoelstra used a lot of vague coach speak and sounded more like a motivational speaker than a anything else. Chris Bosh got more time at the podium than he did on the court — Spoeltra needs more Bosh in Game 6, not less.

Rivers and Rondo talked about what we all saw — the focus on the team, about them grinding out and staying in it when the Heat were hot, giving themselves a chance. They dealt with adversity, Miami wilted when faced with it.

Quote of the day: Wow, LeBron just does not get it

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Five

“We played good enough to give ourselves a chance to win. That’s all you can ask for.”

—LeBron James, following the Heat’s Game 5 loss to Boston. Via Adrain Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

That pretty much sums up the mental difference in this series — Kevin Garnett or Rajon Rondo or no other Celtic would ever say that. Because it’s not all you can ask for, it’s not all LeBron or Miami should ask for. Winning is all you can ask for. Execution at the end of games rather than standing on the perimeter as a decoy is another thing we can ask for.

As Wojnarowski notes in his article there still seems to be a sense around the Heat that they thought this would be easier, that their adversities would melt away and they could claim their rings. That’s not how it works. You have to become better, you have to reach new levels, you have to strive to overcome to reach your goals. Obstacles do not melt away. You have to overcome them.

You have to think that giving yourself a chance to win is not all you can ask for.