May 12, 2011, 2:14 AM EDT
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.
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