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In the end, it was about the Heat execution

May 12, 2011, 2:14 AM EDT

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End of game execution — their best players stepping up in the clutch.

That was the modus operandi Boston’s “big three” of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for years. They were better than you at both ends when it mattered most. That is why championship banner 17 flies in Boston.

Miami’s “big three” got together this summer for the first time and through the start of the season their end of game execution was ugly. Their execution against the best defenses was ugly. They lost because of it.

That story has flipped.

In the final two games, the Heat big three outscored the Celtics big three 40-9 in the fourth quarter (stat via ESPN’s research team). In Game 5, it was 23-2 Heat big three in the fourth quarter, with the Heat’s trio hitting 8-of-13 to the Celtics’ 1-of-9.

That is why Miami is moving on and Boston is heading home. Not just in the Heat’s 16-0 run to end the game, nor just in LeBron scoring the last 10 by himself. It was evident in athleticism and energy.

When Miami is going well they get their shots inside or they get good look threes. Both are set up off dribble penetration and that’s what the Heat did at the end of Game 5 (stats again via ESPN) — in the final 3:43 they got into the paint for four shots (two dunks). They took three shots from three and hit them all. Those are the efficient shots, it’s taking too many midrange shots that is a team’s undoing (unless that team is the Mavericks).

Boston also only took threes and shots in close in that same time, they just couldn’t hit. That and they had three turnovers. It was a matter of execution under pressure.

The story flipped. This series it was the Heat that owned the end of key games, they won by dealing better with crunch time. Just one of the ways it feels like the torch has been passed from one big three to another.

  1. edweird0 - May 12, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    As one dynasty fades into the background, another one establishes itself at the forefront.

    • purdueman - May 12, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      not so fast their, ed… just because Miami has La Bum and Wade doesn’t mean that they are on their way to any kind of a dynasty. The power in the NBA is clearly shifting to the eastern conference (as the aging Lakers and Spurs fade into mediocrity and an almost equally old Mavs squad likely will soon too).

      If you think that the young Bulls are going to stand pat this offseason, you’re crazy. The Bulls already match up very well with the Heat (and won all three meetings between the two clubs this past season), and know that they have to add an impact shooter to their mix.

      The Knicks aren’t going to stand pat either; don’t be shocked to see Chris Paul join Mello and Amarie, if not at the end of this season than surely the following season (when Paul is scheduled to be a free agent, but I’m willing to bet that he’s going to “pull a Mello” and force a trade to the Knicks before his free agency hits).

      The Hawks and Pacers are up and coming teams too; I’d take either of their current rosters over those of the Lakers or Spurs (due to the age of those rosters).

      Let’s take a quick look at how the Bulls match up the Miami’s so called “Big 3″ (I say so called because I’m not at all sold on Bosh):

      La Bum matches up with defensive stud Loul Dang. Dang has the length, athleticism and speed to matchup. Wade matches up with Rose (a draw or close to it). Bosh matches up with Boozer/Gibson. Both Bosh and Boozer run hot and cold, but Gibson will flat out shut down Bosh. Bench? The Bulls have one of the best benches in the league; advantage? Clearly Bulls.

      No, I’m not predicting that the Bulls will win the East; at least not this season, but it’s not going to be the cakewalk that so many giddy Heat fans think it will be either. We’ve ALL seen La Bum and Bosh periodically just take nights off; no one on the Bulls does that!

  2. edweird0 - May 12, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    @purdueman How can you even say that about the bulls? Look how much they’ve struggled against worse teams and you expect them to put up a fight against the Heat? Clearly we all know that the regular season wins have no place in the playoffs (Heat/Celtics &Mavs/Lakers) so for you to use that argument is just foolish. The Heat are going to expose the bulls for what they are: a young inexperienced one man team. For you to even compare deng against Wade or James is beyond me. His inconsistency alone is sufficient enough evidence to scrap any of your arguments. I understand your dislike for Lebron, everyones entitled to their opinion, but for you to live in some alternate reality and negate how awesome of a player he is downright redundant. Clearly you and I having been watching two different playoffs.

    • purdueman - May 12, 2011 at 4:39 PM

      edw… Admittedly I pretty much ignored the Heat-Celtics series; just had no interest in either team.

      No one’s saying that Deng is on par OVERALL to La Bum; all I’m saying is the Deng made the All NBA defensive team for a reason, he’s long, fast and tall enough to give La Bum fits.

      The Bulls are NOT a one man team either; far from it. While the Heat have two All Stars to the Bulls 1, the Bulls have a very solid, up and coming supportive cast and an excellent bench that plays as a TEAM (a concept foreign to the Heat).

      My point is that the Heat can be beat in a series when up against a stifling defensive team, which the Bulls clearly are (just check the stats if you like). The Bulls will NOT be intimidated by the Heat either, which will help to offset their playoff inexperience.

      You’re right too (I say sarcastically); the regular season means absolutely NOTHING. That’s why the playoff seeding is done so randomly, right?

      All I’m predicting though is that the Heat sure as hell aren’t going to sweep the Bulls; I think that the series will go at least six games. That’s my prediction at this point, because Carlos Boozer has a history of getting injured and disappearing in big games making him the Bulls “X” factor in the upcoming East Finals series.

      • edweird0 - May 12, 2011 at 5:26 PM

        See thats were you and I differ, I’ve seen pretty much every bulls game since the first round and I’ve seen those struggles.

        You need to get your facts straight my man, Deng did NOT make the All NBA Defensive team whatsoever (http://www.nba.com/2011/news/05/09/2010-11-all-defensive-teams/index.html)

        For you to negate the Heat bench is just silly. While our stars might take the majority of the workload, are bench comes through when it matters most.

        You speak about the Heat as though they’re not known for their own brand of stifling defense. And yea dude, the regular season means nothing as long as you get into the playoffs. You can go 82-0 during the regular season but that means nothing for you in the playoffs cause like my man Lebron said “everyone starts 0-0 in the playoffs”.

      • purdueman - May 12, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        edw…. are you sure you’re not a Laker fan? I mean, just like Laker fan you’re counting your chickens before they hatch. That’s why they play the games you know.

        And please stop splitting hairs wrt to the NBA All Defensive Team. This may come as a big shock to you, but professional basketball teams are made up of more than just the starting 5 players. All defense is all defense, just as being All Pro by going to the Pro Bowl is still All Pro in the NFL, be it Jay Cutler or Butt-chin Tom (Brady).

        Deng simply lacks name recognition and is obviously overshadowed by Derrick Rose; that doesn’t mean that he’s not one of the best defensive wing players in the NBA though. Just means he isn’t the “popular” or “household name” choice.

        The Bulls certainly do have their offensive struggles from time to time, but they are a picture of consistency when it comes to defense. La Bum and Bosh at times just decide to take games off; the question now is which of the upcoming East Conference Finals will they take off?

        Finally there’s not the grudge mode vs. the Bulls like there was vs. the Celtics, but I hope that the media continues to discount the Bulls and anoint the Heat as the bigger they are, the harder they’ll fall (be it to Chicago, Atlanta or whoever comes out of the West).`

      • borderline1988 - May 12, 2011 at 10:20 PM

        Deng is a very good defender, but honestly, I don’t think he can keep up with Lebron. And Wade has the ability to run over this squad (I think Bogans will be on him?).
        Bosh has always had trouble against Noah, but Bosh should be able to produce more than when Garnett defended him.

        I think both Rose and Wade will put up crazy numbers this series. It will probably go 6 games but Chicago’s lack of scorers will be their doom in the end. Miami can play stifling defense as well as Chicago can, and I expect Miami to start doubling Derrick Rose in the 4th quarter as soon as he crosses half court. Miami will dare the other Bulls to make plays in the 4th quarter, and I simply don’t trust them to against one of the NBA’s top 3 defenses.

  3. edweird0 - May 12, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Haha im a fan of basketball. I dont disagree with you one bit, Deng is a great defensive player. It’s his inconsistent offense that keeps him from being a “popular” or “household name” and thats no ones fault but his own.

    Everyone to their own my friend :)

  4. purdueman - May 12, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    edw… you must not watch many Chicago games. Deng averages 17.0 ppg. That ain’t exactly inconsistent, as he also has a .460 FG%. No, he’s not flashy, but he’s a hell of a lot more consistent than you give him credit for offensively.

    The problem the Bulls offense has with regard to consistency comes from not having a true #2 (shooting), guard and never knowing which Carlos Boozer is going to show up on any given night. Has nothing to do with Deng’s offense, but to each their own… even if their opinions are uniformed and wrong.

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