Tag: rivalries

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat

Bosh even less clutch than LeBron as Magic finish huge comeback over Heat


I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting fooled again. I’m done, I’m through. I will no longer be surprised when the Miami Heat completely collapse against a good team, no matter how large the lead. It’s over. It cannot possibly be worse than allowing the Orlando Magic to stage a 24-point comeback including an 18-0 run at one point, at home, in a 99-96 loss . There’s no way that any loss can top this one. Not even getting swept by the Celtics can top this, given that the Heat showed themselves as the superior team for two and a half quarters, then surrendered what can only be considered a blitzkrieg from the perimeter as the Magic dropped three after three.

The Magic’s perimeter attack will get the credit for this win, but to overlook the Magic defense is to fail to give credit where it’s due. When they finally stopped playing Like A Bosh, they buckled down, and executed on a level we haven’t seen since the 2009 playoffs. Even against the lowly Bobcats and Hawks last season, this was a stronger performance. The Heat ran pick and roll after pick and roll with LeBron James or Dwyane Wade and each time, the Magic defender stepped up to cut off the penetration at the elbow, then recovered. The result was bricked three after bricked three as the Heat faded back into their prototypical fail-fest offense. Perimeter pass, perimeter pass, perimeter pass, looping pick and roll, jump pass to Mario Chalmers. Brick.

Yet nothing really captures how badly Chris Bosh played at the end of this game. Dwight Howard snagged a key offensive rebound over Bosh as Bosh slammed to the deck like he’d been hit by a piano. He missed baseline jumpers like they were full-court shots, and oh, yes. The final possession.

The Heat called a twenty-second timeout, down three, with a chance to miraculously push the game to overtime with a 3-pointer. They had time to work up a play. The result, whether planned or not, was a Chris Bosh 3-pointer.

That’s right. A Chris Bosh three to tie the game. And he missed. Like a Bosh. The Heat managed to get a rebound and kick to LeBron for a desperation three which also clanged. So while Dwyane Wade, Mike Bibby, and Mike Miller all watched, the Heat relied on a power forward to make the key three-point shot. If that’s what was drawn up, it was a disaster. If it was not what was drawn up, the execution was a disaster. Bosh is a career 30% three-point shooter, which is great for him. He’s still not the player you want taking that shot. An ISO pull-up 35-foot LeBron heave is a better option at that point. Sure, Tim Duncan hit a big shot like that. Chris Bosh is not Tim Duncan, even with a better percentage.

The result is a huge win for the Magic, who now have split the season series with the Heat 2-2. Perhaps best of all it wasn’t Dwight Howard having to handle everything. It was the role players stepping up, most notably Jason Richardson who was unfathomably unconscious in the second half. He finished 6-8 from behind the arc, as the Magic shot 55% from three as a team. Jameer Nelson wasn’t hot from deep, but he set the tone in the second half, getting aggressive and creating offensively. Dwight Howard? Only four points in the fourth quarter… along with 10 rebounds and three blocks. This is the kind of performance the Magic want to duplicate for the playoffs.

For the Heat? Yet another blown lead. Yet another loss in a close game. Yet another night of terrible play by Chris Bosh. Yet another game-winner brick for LeBron James. But most concerning? Yet another night of the team losing its focus, especially disappointing after Mike Bibby looked as if he would give them that focus in the first half. We’re left wondering again what it will take for Miami to live up to its potential. Meanwhile the Magic make a statement about their window being closed.

Some leftover notes:

  • Anyone else remember when Wade was able to overcome nearly any defense in the fourth quarter and take a game over? Yeah, me neither.
  • Erick Dampier actually played impressively tonight, especially in the fourth with seven points. Granted, the Heat should never need him to do that, but at least he was working.
  • Chris Bosh slammed the ball after the loss. It was the most emphatic move he made all night.
  • It’s not that this is some sort of slam job on the Heat. But at some point, you have to call a spade a Bosh. Or something. Additionally, the resounding term I read from Heat fans about this loss was “unacceptable.”
  • The Heat starters played 8 minutes to start the second half. It might have been preferable to give them a bit of extra rest. Especially considering…
  • The Heat travel to San Antonio Friday. Fun.
  • The Magic finally got some production from Gilbert Arenas in the fourth quarter. One was a terrible shot that he should never have taken, but the other was a nice job of working in the offense.

LeBron James misses free throw as Celtics top Heat for third time

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

If you hate LeBron James, as much of the Western world does, today was quite a day for you. After being largely the only reason the Miami Heat were even in the game against the Boston Celtics, James clanged the first of two free throws down two with ten seconds left, then failed to save the inbounds pass he deflected. Celtics 85 Heat 82. Boston wins for the third straight time this season, wins the season series, and dominates the Heat in the third quarter despite missing three key players. At this point, no one in their right mind believes Miami has a shot against Boston in an expected Eastern Conference Finals.

The game was relatively close, with the Heat leading at halftime thanks to some smart ball movement and sound defense. In reality, this game was close because both teams played terribly. As you’d imagine in a 85-82 game, the offenses were both horrific. Final offensive efficiencies were 97.7 for Boston and 94.3 for Miami. A slow paced game with low efficiency. The very model of “playoff basketball” which was downright painful to watch for most of the game. The Heat turned the ball over 17% off the time, thanks in large part to one of Dwyane Wade’s worst games in memory, as far back as… the last time he played the Celtics.

For whatever reason, the Celtics have the book on Wade. He got the same kind of fadeaways he’s hit for years, the same kind of floater opportunities, the same kinds of baseline runners he always hit. And yet he shot 6-17 from the floor, with 6, count ’em, 6 turnovers, as the Celtics’ work of bringing constant ball pressure simply melted him down.

For the Celtics? Just about as ugly of a game. Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen combined to shoot 10-34 from the field, including an 0-10 performance from Paul Pierce. Kevin Garnett led all Celtics with 19, but in reality, it was the bench, short-handed as it was, that carried the Celtics. Glen Davis had 16 point son 6-11 shooting and Von Wafer dropped in 10 points including two huge second half three-pointers. But really, it was the Celtics defense, constantly pressuring, constantly contesting, doing what they’ve done for seasons, and dragging this game down into the mud. The Heat almost never got out in transition, missed open threes, and failed to draw fouls, even when they were fairly obvious.

The story will be James, despite 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists to go with 4 turnovers, and he was the best player on the floor for the Heat, and that’s with Chris Bosh dropping 24 points on 11 shots with 10 rebounds. Sounds like a great game, right? Bosh was once again pushed around, muscled out, and generally overpowered by a tougher, stronger, more determined Boston squad. Bosh may have been the biggest reason the Heat scored all day, but he was also the biggest reason the Celtics’ frontcourt wound up with 40 points between Garnett, Davis, and Kendrick Perkins.

So now the Heat have lost three straight to the Celtics, and have been outclassed in each, despite relatively narrow margins. They had every reason to win this game, needed to win this game, had an opportunity to win this game. But just as before, they failed to show the kind of cohesion, focus and effort.

And LeBron missed a free throw.


  • Bosh did the majority of his damage off the pick and pop, which he should. The Celtics were determined to attack James again on the drive and surrender mid-range jumpers, and Bosh hurt them. But not enough in the end.
  • The Heat’s ball movement when it wasn’t turning the ball over was actually excellent. They created open looks with the extra pass and played with precision.
  • The Celtics on the other hand just buckled down and played playoff basketball. Nothing fancy, just simple passes leading to tough, contested shots that they forced down.
  • Anyone who enjoyed watching this game, Boston or Heat fan, is a masochist.
  • Ray Allen popped a wide open three in transition after stripping Wade in the first quarter. From then on out, the Heat did a good job of running him off the perimeter.
  • Joel Anthony finished with a +5 in this game, which should probably destroy this metric for all time, and I like the metric. Anthony was constantly out of position, gave up offensive rebounds, failed to close off the baseline, and was often scrambling to recover.
  • Rajon Rondo played with great defensive intensity, bodying up LeBron in the post, though he was clearly afforded more contact by the officials because of his size.
  • Mike Miller had an open look at the game winning shot, but as usual, the Heat’s execution wasn’t quite right, and Miller wound up with an off-balance three that missed badly. Oh, and Wade missed a tip back attempt just for good measure (the Heat would have still been down 1).
  • Mario Chalmers had two bad plays and was essentially yanked for the remainder of the game. Considering how Wade played running point, you have to wonder about that decision.
  • Rajon Rondo had a triple-double and shot 50% from the field.

(For more on Heat-Celtics III check out our official recap.)

The implications of Heat-Celtics III

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

For the first time this season, the Miami Heat will face the Boston Celtics with a better record.  But in the third meeting between the two best teams in the East, the Heat will need a significant amount of progress across all fronts in order to come away with their first victory over the Celtics. The first two meetings between the two were comfortable Celtic victories, even as LeBron James made things slightly interesting down the stretch. The Heat would make a run, then the Celtics would execute for a few sustained possessions and put the game out of reach again. Those losses could easily be described as the worst and most damaging losses for the Heat.

Which is why this game matters so much more to Wade, James, and company than it does to the defending Eastern Conference champs. The Celtics are short-handed, with Delonte West, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, and Marquis Daniels all questionable-to-out for the game. Furthermore, the C’s have already made their point this season. They’ve proven they can be or are the best team in the East, arguably in the entire league, and have victories over every elite team, plus the two wins over the Heat. For Boston, winning this game is a cherry on top. It’s just frosting. At this point Boston’s biggest concern is making sure they don’t suffer any more injuries.

So why does this feel like the Heat are still facing an uphill struggle? Besides the obvious elements like the existence of Rajon Rondo and the Heat’s pitiful lack of depth, the biggest gap in the first two games between the two star-studded behemoths wasn’t on the X’s and O’s side. It was mental, and emotional. The Celtics were zoned in, playing with intensity. Even if they acted as if they were smacking down a younger brother who dared act like he was on their level, the Celtics understood the message they wanted to send. The Heat have a lot of talent, and they wanted to show they were that much better because they are a complete team. They wanted to win that game. It’s been pretty easy to spot the difference in the Celtics this season when they try and when they don’t; the Celtics wanted those first two games.

On the other hand, the Heat sleepwalked through that game. They seemed to have no intensity, no fire, no cohesion, and most of all, no sense of urgency. This was a team in its first year together, trying to prove itself, trying to find its identity, against the Eastern Conference champs who had ousted both Wade and James in last season’s playoffs, and who are the most smack-talking-est smack talkers who ever talked smack this decade. And yet the Heat seemed listless, lifeless, and without any real sense of purpose. If that’s missing again when the two take the floor for their third of four match-ups, the Celtics will take the season series in a cake walk, and many will go from penciling in the Celtics over the Heat to tracing that over in black ink.

Sure, the Heat will need Mario Chalmers to at least not embarrass himself, for Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to play with some measure of physicality, and for Chris Bosh to try not to create the world’s largest eye-roll from fans worldwide. But in reality, the best way to beat the Celtics is for LeBron James to play as he has for the last month, and to combine that with some emotional leadership. James has been transcendent, even by his standards, over the beginning of this calendar year. Going 1-on-5 against the Celtics doesn’t work, but James can hurt them even with their precise doubles and help defense, if he’s engaged. But that’s always the question with James. Will have commit to the intensity needed to topple even an injured Celtics team, or will he defer and settle for mid-range jumpers again? He and Dwyane Wade make up the most devastating two-man combo in the league. Will they get out in transition or simply let the Celtics wear them down with how they constantly seem to be back on the break, eventually forcing you to settle into a halfcourt game, which favors their style?

This is a big game for the Heat. There’s just no getting around it. There’s nothing to be won; a victory only means that people will even more loudly proclaim “Doesn’t mean a thing ’till spring!” But there is a lot to be lost. The season series against the Celtics, the confidence that they’ve finally turned a corner on their early season lackadaisical approach to big games, and an opportunity to showcase that no, for real, this team has found itself and while 72-10 is out the door, they can still bust heads.

Every run to greatness has its moments founded in the regular season. A big step awaits the Heat. We know the Celtics will be ready. But will Miami?