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Game of the night: The running of the Celtics

Nov 12, 2010, 2:30 AM EDT


Boston is supposed to be the old men. Miami is supposed to be the young bucks unstoppable in transition.

Then why is it that that all night long Boston was the team pushing the ball in transition, getting some easy buckets on the run? Miami was slowed, hesitant. It speaks to where these teams are in the maturation process, how big the gap is between them.

That running helped Boston built a double-digit early lead in this one, they got that all the way up to 20 then held on at the end to get the win, 112-107.

What we saw opening night was confirmed Thursday — right now Boston is the better team. This wasn’t Miami not being used to each other, this was Boston executing their game plan, believing in the system in a way Miami does not yet. The Celtics have much stronger defensive principles, but what matters more is they stick to them. Boston knows who it is and what it wants to do. The Celtics execute when Miami could not or would not.

The Celtics put up 61 first half points shooting a fantastic 67 percent eFG% (field goal percentage that includes a bump for hitting threes), in part because of the easy buckets they got in transition. Also in part because they had fantastic ball movement. Ray Allen benefited from that, plus he was just hot and finished the game with 35 points having hit 7 of 9 from three. Meanwhile Miami was shooting 44 percent eFG% for the first half. Boston literally ran their lead up to 20 in the third quarter.

Miami’s talent is not going to allow any win over them to be easy. The Heat cut it to 10 at the end of the third. They got it down to seven a couple times late and had open looks at threes to make it four points. At one point near they end they got it down to three.

Miami made that surge in part because LeBron James had a Cleveland game — he dominated the ball out top, ran a lot of pick-and-rolls and got his points the hard way. That system works pretty well, it got Cleveland a lot wins. It just never got them where they wanted to go.

LeBron had to take over in part because Dwyane Wade was ice cold, 2 of 12 for the contest. Several times he dribbled into pressure along the sideline, then made poor passes out of it. Just not his night.

Chris Bosh was solid on offense, 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting. After the game Erik Spoelstra said it was the most aggressive bosh had played.

It was on defense where Bosh struggled. He was pushed around, did not grab boards, and seemed a passive spectator. The Celtics went right at him on defense, and he did not respond. His slow rotation on the spectacular Rajon Rondo dunk was just the most glaring example of a bad defensive half. I have stuck up for Bosh not playing well this season in the past, tonight I stop that.

Udonis Haslem tried. You can tell he realizes how far the Heat have to go to be a team in the way Boston is. To beat a team like that. So he pushes and has maybe his best game of the season — 21 points on 9 of 10 shooting, plus 10 rebounds.

But the Heat have a ways to go. They let Boston dictate the terms of this game. Right now, the Celtics are the defending champions who look good and Miami is a 5-4 team struggling to find out exactly who they are. They have a season to do that, if Miami fans can be patient. But the road is a long one.

  1. david8726 - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:41 AM

    I’m a heat fan, but I totally agree.

    Tonight, they were the teachers and we were the students. That’s a team that’s figured out how to get big time players to work together and we’re obviously way behind.

    There is definitely hope for Heat fans. Our four losses have been by a combined 18 points. We haven’t been blown out of any game. Obviously this team hasn’t reached it’s ceiling yet and will get better over time as the roster plays more together.

    However, there are definitely some “structural” issues with this team that need to be addressed. Namely, the PG and C spots. Arroyo and Anthony can’t get it done. After tonight, one or both will probably get benched in favor of Z and House / Chalmers.

    But even those are just bandaid fixes. Z is too old to play starters minutes and House has the same defensive issues as Arroyo (although he brings shooting to the starting 5).

    The solution at PG and the depth we need at center are probably not currently on this roster. Riley will no doubt try to find a way to bring in outside help.

    • hnirobert3 - Nov 12, 2010 at 7:44 AM

      I told myself before the season started to not get too high on wins and not get to low on the loses. However, the staring PG and C situation needs to be addressed. I know once Mike Miller is back, he’ll be put in the starting SG role and Wade will be considered the PG, but that still doesn’t solve that Joel Anthony, nice player and all, is not a starting C in this league. All in all, I trust in Pat and know that come trade season he’ll figure something out like he did in 2006.

  2. wonkypenguin - Nov 12, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    That Rondo dunk was unbelievable. I agree that Bosh looks extremely passive on defense. They’ll figure it out, eventually, but there is a smug satisfaction in watching them struggle a little bit right now.

  3. ibejeph - Nov 12, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    I wonder if that was what Riley was writing on that paper…need a PG…need a C…need Just for Men…

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