Did you know that the Miami Heat are only 1-6 versus the top five teams in the NBA this season?
Funny stat huh? Especially when everyone and there mom is sitting around discussing how much the Lakers need a big time win and how they struggle against stiffer competition.
After Sunday’s loss at Boston isn’t about time that we give them the same treatment?
Their 85-82 loss showed once again that “The Heatles,” as glamorous as they may seem, are not the top tier team that we think they are. Never mind their Christmas day win in L.A.; the Lakers could care less about those types of games. Kobe and company are biding their time until the postseason when it actually matters to have statement wins. The Lakers can go about their business like that because they are defending Champs.
The Heat on the other hand don’t have the same luxury due to their lack of Jewelry and Mt. Everest sized hype.
Ever since LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh stood together in July they were crowned the best team in the league. They would win 70 games, they would be unstoppable… if that’s the case then how do you lose for the third time to the best team in the Eastern Conference and this time when they are as healthy Big Pun?
The Celtics were without two big men yesterday (Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal), Marquise Daniels and Paul Pierce was closer to 10% than 100%. They trotted out little used Von Wafer for 14 minutes and only went 7 deep in their rotation. They put Rajon Rondo on LeBron James in spurts in the third quarter… how the hell did the Heat lose this game? Easy answer, they’re better than the Heat, more in-depth answer… they’re tougher than the Heat.
Wafer scored more points in those 14 minutes that the entire Heat bench did all game; Big Baby Davis was huge in spelling Kendrick Perkins who is coming back from knee surgery. Davis in 30 minutes scored 16 points off of the bench and helped outmuscle Miami’s weak front line.
Yet the biggest advantage came in the mental department. The Celtics got in the Heat’s head yesterday. The Rondo ploy on LeBron was stupid brilliant. It was stupid because if LeBron wanted to he could’ve backed Rondo down all game long, but it was brilliant because somehow Rondo put a ton of pressure on the ball and James couldn’t make the plays he normally does.
The Celtic toughness was on full display yesterday. When the shots weren’t falling the defense turned its game up. They forced 15 turnovers including 6 by Wade who had another horrible outing against Boston this year. They turned up the physicality forcing Wade into a stupid flagrant foul on Kevin Garnett in the third after KG floored Mike Miller with a vicious pick. After the foul was assessed you saw Rondo poking around the Heat huddle like a little kid nosing around the refrigerator and didn’t stop even though four players pushed him away.
The C’s showed that no matter how shorthanded they are the best team in the league resides in Boston and that as hyped as the Heat are they’re not title ready just yet.
The Heat’s flaws were on full display. They’re too dependent on their Big 3; they have no considerable depth, no big men inside and no consistent point guard play. The Big 3 rarely complete games together unless it’s to lesser competition and (eerie music please) none of these guys seem to want to take the big shot.
Why in the world was Bosh away from the ball, Wade setting a pick and James inbounding the ball while Mike Miller took the potential game tying three? Shouldn’t that be a shot designed for your best players? It wasn’t the first time either. Guys like Mario Chalmers and Eddie House have taken game tying or winning shots while the 3 musketeers stood and watched. That can’t happen. You have to take that shot if you’re the supposed main guy. Kobe wouldn’t pass, Melo wouldn’t and these guys shouldn’t.
The Heat to me are all bark and no bite, all flash and no grit. They have no killer instinct; no want to step on the other guys’ throat. The Celtics have that. When the game got tough the C’s flexed their muscles and beat up the Heat. Their experience in these situations and toughness carried them where the Heat looked dazed and confused trying to muster up some sort of retaliation but to no avail.
Looking ahead for the Heat, they have 28 games left to figure out how to get that mental toughness and beat a worthy opponent when it matters. They have to go to Chicago and face D-Rose later this month and next month things get really interesting with games against San Antonio, the Lakers coming to Miami, and Oklahoma City and Orlando as well.
They have one more game versus Boston in December too but it’ll be the 80th game of the season and both teams may rest their starters.
Not that it matters though. What we learned yesterday is something we should’ve known since day one; Boston is the better team than Miami. It doesn’t matter if they’re at full strength or not, Boston gets the job done and belongs among the elite in the league.
The Heat however, are still a work in progress.