Skip to content

What Heat-Celtics means to the Miami Heat

Apr 30, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Getty Images

The Miami Heat want to be great.

Greatness is such a bizarre concept. How often is it used outside of sports? Politics. Spirituality. Business. Show-business. And all those things are complex and contextual. But it’s what we pursue. If the Boston Celtics symbolize that single-minded obsession with gold, the Heat are pursuing something that almost goes beyond rings. They want to cement themselves as great. It takes a special kind of arrogance to pursue that as a goal in and of itself, but then, that arrogance is a product of talent and ability. It is that drive for greatness that brought the Triad together, it is what turns so many off of them. But it’s there, and if we want to talk about them as adults and not self-righteous judge and jury, we do need to recognize it. The Heat want to be great.

The Miami Heat can’t be great without beating the Boston Celtics.

You have to have a villain, and guess what? The Chicago Bulls don’t work because of their youth and relative unknown identity. The Lakers don’t fit because there’s no counter of identity. But the Celtics? The Celtics eliminated James’ Cavaliers. They eliminated Wade’s Heat. And they have made it clear that they neither respect, nor acknowledge any team that lays claim to the East, especially the Heat.

The Celtics represent the old guard, the Pistons to the Heat’ Bulls, the Pistons to the Heat’s Celtics, the team that stands in their way. It doesn’t matter that this is the conference semifinals, not the conference Finals. It doesn’t matter that the Bulls await the winner, licking their young chops while the two go to what will likely be an abject war. This is what they’ve waited for, and this feels like the kind of drama they have to experience.

The Celtics are Miami’s mirror image. Three stars, one the franchise icon, who unite to try and do something extraordinary. The Celtics adopted chemistry and commitment. The Heat have preached chemistry and a commitment to business. The versatile small-forward. The iconic shooting guard. The long power forward. The Celtics are so much like the Heat, but just a little bit closer, a little bit of a better fit, a little bit able to mesh. And if the Heat want to advance, they have to come together like the Celtics did.

The Celtics hate this team. They’ll act dismissive. They’ll talk about it being just another opponent, and how it’s on to the next one if they were to win. But this team hates how they celebrated while the Celtics were still smarting from losing Game 7 of the Finals by a quarter without their starting center. They hate the adulation of the individual over the team. This is more than just a playoff series, it’s a validation of Ubuntu versus the most talented team the Celtics have ever faced. Miami can’t allow a team that disdains them to get this win. If the Heat have been driven to shut up the haters, losing to the Celtics would mean surrendering to the biggest collection of them all.

The Celtics are the villain, the bad guy, the team that took it to them in the regular season and exposed them early and often. The Heat need this series to vanquish those demons. The confidence they’ll have were they to beat Boston, the big bad Boston Celtics, would be enough to carry them as far as they want to go. That’s not a dismissal of the very talented Bulls and Lakers, it’s a testament to the mental edge Boston has carried over Miami.

The Celtics bring defense. The Heat bring defense. The Celtics are individually magnificent. The Heat have some of the most talented players in the league. The Celtics return to their team concept just as the Heat do, for strength and guidance. The identities of these teams are not so different. Garnett whispered in LeBron’s ear after the Celtics defeated the Cavaliers last year. What he said isn’t known. But you have to wonder if it is the way these Celtics have tortured James for three years that drove him to abandon his home and responsibilities as the franchise player (as was within his rights to do) and join Wade and Bosh. The Celtics will make you crazy. They just keep coming, just keep hammering, and just keep challenging you at every position.

The unstoppable force meets… the unstoppable force.

No team embarrassed the Heat like the Celtics did this year, not even the Bulls. This matchup has it all for the Heat. Revenge. Vendettas. A philosophic difference between basketball for basketball’s sake, and basketball as a portal to fulfillment of all life has to offer, including, yes, greatness.

The world does not exist past this series for Miami. It is their entire universe. They may simply not be ready for this challenge, they may not have had enough time together. That doesn’t matter. The moment is here by which they’ll be jumped, their careers put into perspective. The game is the same it was at the start of the year.

You want to be great?

You gotta beat Boston.

  1. thetooloftools - Apr 30, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    Heat better win… LeBron promised how many rings ?
    (he ran the same smack in Cleveland).

    • wenoi2010 - May 1, 2011 at 4:19 AM

      I know there are a lot of Lebron haters, but he is a smart business man and truly wants to win. I think everyone is forgetting Wade, he did win a title and was the MVP. I appreciate exceptional talent. As a Laker fan, I had to admire Jordan, just for his pure determination to win. It’s the same reason I am a Kobe fan. You got to love great players. So stop hating and start enjoying what the great players have to offer. As far as this this matchup. Celtic in 7 or the Heat in 5. I am leaning towards the Celtic. They are just hard to knock out of the playoff and as a Laker fan who do you think I would love to beat in the finals. As a fan of the Lakers and to All the Celtic fans, we have to much respect for each other to be a haters, just happy to win it all. Good luck and see you in June.

  2. thestudiokida - Apr 30, 2011 at 11:04 AM


    I’m pumped up for this series. I usually pull for the young blood, but I know the Celtics are eager to school LeBron & Wade once again.

    • liltmac2003 - Apr 30, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      I completely agree that this is going to be an amazing series.

      Why would I care what Heat-Celtics means to the Miami Heat? I care what it means to the NBA! I know that it’s going to be a great series with two teams going at it hard.

      • Scott - May 1, 2011 at 7:13 PM

        It better be entertaining…with an NFL-like lockout looming, we fans better get some GREAT BBall to carry us thorugh the darkness of missed games. Fortunately for the NBA, the season doesnt start until the playoffs. They can have a lockout until next April as long as we get playoff basketball, it’ll all be good.

  3. delius1967 - Apr 30, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Sorry, but to everyone except the residents of Miami, the Heat are the villians in this series, not the Celtics. The Celtics’ team-oriented game is everything you should want to see, and contrasts sharply with the Heat’s me-first showmanship that is the antithesis of good sports.

    From James having the gall to host a freakin’ TV special to announce what team he was selling his services to, to Bosh’s arrogance that so far outstrips his actual talent, the Heat are a team that it is incredibly easy to root against. Wade is the only one of the three that has shown even the slightest bit of humility, which is ironic considering he is the only one to have won a championship before. (Actually, maybe that isn’t ironic.) The other two clearly think themselves better than the game itself.

    • scorp16 - Apr 30, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      “Sorry, but to everyone except the residents of Miami, the Heat are the villians in this series”


      But let’s add a bit more……

      Boston is a team the majority of the country is tired of hearing about…The current edition of the Celtics are living off the laurels of of past glory..

      “The Celtics have the team effort…The Celtics have the discipline…The Celtics have the experience….The Road goes through Boston…..Boston this…Boston that…..

      For all the smack that has talked about Boston….The current version of the team has won…exatcly 1 title….1…..As in “singular”……one…..(By your own admission…Wade has already equalled that)…..The media reveres this Boston team as if it was the Bulls of the 90’s.

      Garnett is a dirty player (real class with the Villanueva situation…and not alot of people in the NBA really respect the guy as a person…good player….piece of sh*t as a person)…..Paul Pierce is a bigger Diva than Lebron and Dwade put together…Rondo is just irritating when he tries to think he’s being tough….The only one that has any class in that orginazation is Rivers and Ray Allen. I’d wager to say that 90% of the country would rather see LeBron win the series over (Smell my *ass and tell me how it tastes Kobe) O’Neal….

      Yeah classy organization you have there Boston…

    • thestudiokida - Apr 30, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      The villain metaphor was a subjective statement coming from the Heat’s point-of-view.

      I agree that Miami is the less cohesive team and therefore easier to root against…. on offense. Defensively they play have played the best team basketball of all 30 teams this year. Their 1-on-1 defensive is aggressive and when a man gets beat he always has a guy switching behind him followed by another guy switching to the switcher’s guy.

      On offensive they obviously rely very heavily on Wade/James/Bosh but they have still shown some flashes of brilliant ball movement and pick & roll execution. Watch the Heat’s final games against the Spurs, Lakers and Celtics to see good execution on offense.

      That said, I just wanted to point out that Matt wasn’t calling Boston a public enemy or villain… just the Heat’s personal nemesis.

    • henryd3rd - Apr 30, 2011 at 6:19 PM

      Not everyone living in Miami is a heat fan. I’m a transplanted NY Knicks fan living in South Florida as well as a basketball fan and Miami residents don’t deserve a good team. Plus these folks don’t even appreciate the game. Come to games late and leave early to avoid traffic. That would never happen at the Garden. They even had to run commercials down here chastising the fans for their lack of fan support. I’m looking forward to the Celtics kicking ass and taking names

  4. empyrius - Apr 30, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    Celtics baby!

    The Heat are not going fishing b/c they are about to be devoured by the Jaws of doom: the Celtics!

    Yeah baby!

  5. thestudiokida - Apr 30, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    “The Miami Heat can’t be great without beating the Boston Celtics.”

    Great one line paragraph, Matt. Perhaps that should have been the titular statement.

    • scorp16 - Apr 30, 2011 at 4:46 PM

      ““The Miami Heat can’t be great without beating the Boston Celtics.”

      The Heat cannot become a force without beating the Celtics…..They cannot become great without beating the Lakers………They cannot remain great without eventually beating the Thunder in the next few years…..

      NBA has got some serious Karma going on right now…..

      The old guard…Celtics…Lakers

      The new guard…Heat….Bulls…..Thunder…..Knicks

      Seems a shame to waste it on a lockout….

  6. drmonkeyarmy - Apr 30, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    We know Delonte will be there….the question is will Lebron’s mom?

  7. budrow - May 1, 2011 at 7:10 AM


    Bosh seems like a pretty good dude. He’s emotional and energetic. He treats the lower 9 on the Heat like people. I love the Heat and LeBron, but LeBo stares daggers into Chalmers. Granted Bosh may be a total dingus in real life, I don’t know, but in all of his interviews he’s a real nice guy. But what do I know, me and Bosh haven’t hung out in a while, going on 26 years now, gosh I miss him.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (2104)
  2. D. Rose (2030)
  3. K. Bryant (1777)
  4. K. Irving (1653)
  5. J. Smith (1636)
  1. T. Thompson (1503)
  2. A. Davis (1478)
  3. T. Wroten (1396)
  4. J. Embiid (1327)
  5. R. Rubio (1282)