Tag: Heat Celtics Game 4

Dwyane Wade

What was with Miami’s final play? A Wade isolation three? Ugh.


Dwyane Wade is shooting 29.2 percent from three in the playoffs. Which is better than he shot during the regular season. It is not what he does well.

So the fact Miami’s final play of overtime devolved into a Wade pull-up three to win it was poor. Bad design, not great execution, just not putting their best player in a position to play to his strengths. Of course, Wade missed the three, Boston won 93-91 and this series is knotted up 2-2 heading back to South Beach.

Look at that last play in detail.

Before it, Miami had made a good play. They knew Boston had a foul to give so Wade attacked hard a couple times to force the Celtics to use it. He drew a reach in foul and the result was Miami had 14 seconds to make something work — if you go early and not late you have time for an offensive rebound or to reset if needed (the risk is you score and your opponent gets the last shot, but I’d rather defend a last shot than try to make one).

Wade pops out off a down screen and gets the ball out high, and the first option was for Mario Chalmers, winding from the weak side off a couple picks, to try and pop free out by the arc on the right side, but Keyon Dooling read it well and cut the pass off. Friend of this blog Sebastian Pruiti points out at Grantland that Wade blew this by not coming back over hard to create the proper angle.

Then Wade waits for Shane Battier to set a pick, which switches Marquis Daniels on to him as a defender. Miami isolates Wade with shooters around the arc. Wade drives hard to his left, stops up and leans back right, watches Daniel go by on the fly-by block attempt, then takes the three that misses.

So many questions. First, should Wade shooting a three rather than attacking be in the script? It’s a clean look, but not what he does well. The Heat offense improved this season in part because Wade and LeBron James stopped shooing so many threes. (LeBron was fouled out at this point and couldn’t take, or pass off, the last shot).

Why doesn’t Wade just lean in on the Daniels fly-by and draw the foul? Well, trusting the officials in this game might have been a mistake. Why the three to win when he had to twist his body a little to get it off, leading to that awkward leg-kick shot?

It’s all moot. He got a look that the Heat will say they can live with. He missed it. Frankly, that was better than the disaster of a LeBron iso that they ran at the end of regulation, one that resulted into an ill-fated jump off to Haslem. But that doesn’t make it good.

But maybe Doc Rivers was right anyway, “Red wasn’t going to let that go in.”

LeBron, Pierce foul out of sadly whistle-happy game

LeBron James

The biggest problem for the NBA is that the day after every major game we are discussing the officiating.

And the officiating — particularly late in Game 4 of Miami and Boston — was a key part of the story Sunday. There were five offensive foul calls in the second half of the fourth quarter and overtime. Joey Crawford and crew were not shy with the borderline calls. Both LeBron James and Paul Pierce fouled out offensive fouls.

Every fan base is sure the officials are out to screw them, and like any good conspiracy theory there is just enough “evidence” fuel the speculation. Thing is, in this case there were just a series of bad calls.

Like the call that fouled LeBron out of the game. LeBron was trying to establish post position and Mickael Pietrus pulled the chair. Both men fell. ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said you have to make some kind of call there, I say he’s wrong. No you don’t. LeBron picked up his fifth foul on a cop-out “double foul” call and fouled out on this.

LeBron had not fouled out of any game since 2008, which considering he draws some tough defensive assignments is an impressive feat. He had never fouled out of a playoff game. But in this game the calls were tight and there was no “play on.”

Pierce has fouled out three times in the last two series, which seems a strange trend but he’s picking up a lot of offensive fouls.

And he fouled out on one — he was coming across the lane, Shane Battier ran in front of him, Pierce did bring his arm up and Battier went down. Could have, should have been a no call in my book, but the whistle blew.

All game long it was like this. Ray Allen stepped out of bounds then passed to Keyon Dooling for a key first half three. On one play Pierce was fouled by LeBron, but only after Pierce had traveled to get the shot. That somehow was a no call.

And there was no shortage of flopping by both teams all night.

So we end up with another game where the NBA’s officiating is at the heart of the post-game conversation. This time it’s not Boston fans whining about perceived injustice (they shouldn’t this game, they caught some real breaks), it was just uneven all night.

And the bigger problem for the NBA is there are no easy answers out there.

There is not some magical pool of better officials out there the NBA is ignoring. (If you think so, you forgot what the scab refs looked like last labor fight.) More replay all game is not the answer. The game is fast and filled with big men and whatever the officials do they are wrong. “Superstars get all the calls” but then they call some on LeBron and Pierce and we point out they were not good calls. All we can ask for is consistency.

There just wasn’t any Sunday night.

Video: Rondo, both coaches talk Celtics Game 4 victory

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Three
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Here is a slice of Erik Spoelstra’s post-game press conference from Sunday night. He is pretty composed. It would have been way more fun to make Pat Riley get up there and see if he could hold his tongue about LeBron James fouling out.

Also speaking here are Rajon Rondo, the guy that makes the Celtics go, and Doc Rivers.

What ankle problems? Ray Allen plays 46 minutes, looks good

Ray Allen

At the start of the Eastern Conference finals, Ray Allen was moving around the court like Betty White. Battling bone spurs in his ankles, he wasn’t moving crisply to get open and when he did get a look there was no lift in his legs and shots clanged off the rim. He was even missing free throws. And Ray Allen doesn’t miss free throws.

But it’s not like that any more.

Allen wasn’t exactly his old self — he was 6-of-16 from the field in Game 4 — but he is a threat again, playing more than 46 minutes, moving well off the ball and scoring 16 points as part of the Celtics dramatic win.

“Just going into the game, starting the game, having my legs underneath me is for me it’s a huge deal now,” Allen said at his post-game press conference.

He had a couple key threes and has again attracted the focus on the Heat defense, spreading them out. It has been one of the keys to the Celtics tying the series up 2-2.

This doesn’t mean the problem is gone for the free agent to be. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com has this quote from Allen.

“At my lowest point, I was ready to have surgery,” Allen said. “I didn’t think that I would get any better, because I was doing all the things I needed to do, treatment-wise, and just staying off of it. It didn’t seem like it was going to get any better…

“It just progressively got better over time,” Allen said. “We’ll see how I deal with it once the season is over.”

Celtics-Heat Game 4: Boston out executes Heat, evens series 2-2

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Four

Boston owned the first half with a sharp offense.

Miami played defense for the first time since their plane landed in Boston in the second half and tied it up.

But with everything on the line at the end of the game and in overtime it came down to execution, and the veteran Celtics were better at it. Not a lot — it was 4-2 in overtime. It was grinding, not pretty. But that counts just the same. Boston won 93-91 and the Eastern Conference finals are tied 2-2 heading back to Miami.

Boston won this with one half of hot offense and four quarters and an overtime of defense. What they have done amazingly well is cut off the transition points of Miami — they have taken away the easy, showtime buckets that fuel the Heat. Old legs? Not even close. Boston has looked more spry the last two games.

That started from the opening minutes of Game 5. Boston walked on the court attacking, Rajon Rondo was getting the lane, carving up the Heat defense with passes and shots. He has been amazing this series, and he finished this game with 15 points and 15 assists. Boston went on 10-0 run early and that had team up 14. Boston got a dozen first quarter points from Paul Pierce, shot 59 percent and put 34 points up in the first 12 minutes. Boston had seven three pointers in the first half. That carried through the half as Boston was up 14 and had 61 points at the break.

Then Miami started playing intense defense in the second half, particularly trapping Rondo and taking the ball out of his hands. Behind that the Heat’s rotations were sharper and they started to challenge whoever had the ball. Miami played far more physical ball. Boston scored just 12 points in the third quarter. Boston had 16 in the fourth.

Miami also started to really take advantage of every time Kevin Garnett sat down. They attacked and without KG’s defensive leadership out there Boston could not stop LeBron James (29 points) or the Heat from getting to the rim.

But what Boston did late was make stops and one more shot — this game was tied 81-81 with five minutes remaining in regulation. Both teams were pushing, clawing and getting fouls. Some interesting fouls. Some questionable fouls. Both Pierce and LeBron fouled out in overtime and there were questionable calls all night both ways.

In the end, Boston played good defense and made one more shot.

Miami had its looks. But with the final shot in regulation and overtime Miami didn’t execute as well as the Boston defense.

In regulation what coach Eric Spoelstra drew up… well he said after the game it fell apart, what it became was a LeBron James isolation where when the triple-team came he tried to pass out of it and… it was just not good.

“It was another multi-layer thing to try to get LeBron on the run,” Spoelstra said. “The play broke down a little bit, so he had to put the ball on the floor and make a play. He had the right idea. I think (Haslem) was open for a count there in the corner. But you have to pass over a 7-foot-6 guy, so it wasn’t really a clean pass.”

Then at the end of overtime, with 14 seconds to go and Miami down 2, the Heat actually ran a play to get a switch so Marquis Daniels was on Wade, which led to a clean look at a step back three as time ran out. Clean but not a good shot. Thing is, Wade shot 26.8 percent from three this season, 27.8 percent in the playoffs. Him taking a twisting three is not good execution, it is not high percentage shot. And if you go earlier you might get an offensive rebound. Miami executed neither.

And so the series is tied 2-2. Game 5 is going to be when the Heat figure out how to take a step forward or they will fall short — Boston is a veteran team they are going to defend, they are going to execute. Just like they did in Game 3 and 4.

If Chris Bosh is back in the lineup can Miami execute better? Either way they had better. The playoffs are about growth and if Miami doesn’t do it before Game 5 this series could end quickly.