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Boston fights back but Miami relentless, too much for C’s

Dec 28, 2011, 12:11 AM EDT

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Getty Images

Boston would not get steamrolled. You’ve got to give them that. When Dallas found themselves getting overwhelmed early by the aggressive and up-tempo version of the Heat on Christmas Day, the Mavs rolled over and played dead.

Not Boston. They scrapped and zoned all the way back to make it a game.

But in the end the shorthanded Celtics fell to the Heat 115-107. Miami is 2-0 and looks better than they did last season (and the fans have a new hero in Norris Cole). Boston joins the Mavericks and Lakers as recent champions starting the season 0-2 (with a back-to-back in New Orleans on Wednesday).

It’s hard to describe how Miami is playing at a different tempo than their opponents right now. There are college football games early in the season where a young program goes in to challenge a national power and early on you can see the upstarts don’t have the size and athleticism, they look overwhelmed. It takes them a while to find their footing.

That is how Boston looked at the start. Overwhelmed and slow. Miami’s pressure is relentless in their new system — they were always aggressive on defense but now are trying to turn every miss and steal into a chance to run. And that means high percentage shots, like a monster LeBron James dunk early right over Rajon Rondo. Miami shot 81.8 percent through the first eight minutes of the game with Dwyane Wade and LeBron leading the way, and they shot 70 percent well into the third quarter.

Miami not only is trying to run more but they are far more aggressive trying to get to the rim in half court sets. One of their first possessions the got Chris Bosh the ball 15 feet out on the wing and he faced up and drove right at Jermaine O’Neal for two. Playing against Boston and Kevin Garnett seems to bring out the best in Bosh — and he’s knocking down that three trailing on those fast breaks. When Marquis Daniels was on LeBron, they posted him up. Miami is trying to find and exploit mismatches, and doing it much faster than before.

Boston hung around thanks to Rondo (who was looking to score) and 61.5 percent shooting themselves. Boston was also draining the long ball — Ray Allen had six threes and as a team the Celtics shot 12-of-19 from beyond the arc.

Still, it looked like a Heat runaway. But midway through third Doc Rivers decided to try the zone — the first time anyone remembers Boston in a zone — and that slowed the Heat down. Miami missed shots on eight straight possessions to end the third quarter and the Celtics got on an 18-6 run and cut the lead to at 91-83. And we had a ballgame.

Then in the fourth Boston went away from the zone and Miami was a little more patient on offense and suddenly the lead was back to 13. So Boston went back to the zone and their starters, the Heat started to turn it over.

Miami had better adapt better to the zone — flash LeBron or Bosh into the middle of it, have James Jones shooting over the top — because after this game they are going to see a lot more of it going forward.

Boston in the fourth quarter did what they have done for years – take away your primary scoring options and dare anyone else to beat them. Norris Cole did just that with 14 fourth quarter points. He finished with 20 total and more importantly played fearlessly but with the control of a veteran in the clutch. I don’t think Cole should ever have more shots than Bosh (16 to 11) but it worked. And he could have Mario Chalmers job if he keeps this up.

Boston had to play the Knicks and Heat on the road to start the season and do it without Paul Pierce. That might be 0-2 under the best of circumstances. They fought in this game. They are a good team that will be there later.

But Miami looks like a relentless machine. A team that has figured out an up-tempo style that suits them. One they will only get better at. A team that defends hard.

Miami was two games away from a title and they look better than they did last season. Much better. Which is scary for the other 29 teams.

  1. dzsham - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    the only thing relentless about this game was the way the refs jobbed the c’s on this one. was that tim donaghy out there? since when are dick bavetta and olandis poole on the heat roster? shameless! nevertheless, props on props to norris cole. the kid looks sharp out there, and lebum and dwade certainly seemed more than elated to let him take over the 4th quarter of this game.

  2. edweird0 - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:43 AM

    This game was exactly what I expected. I knew the C’s weren’t gunna roll over like the Mavs. Great game but of course I knew the heat were gunna come through with the win. Now I’m just looking forward to seeing how they are against the Bulls & Knicks. Only then will I start to make assumptions about my Heat. Either way, Cole went off on everyone and the heat got a great win. LETSGOHEAT!!!

  3. david8726 - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    It’s kind of scary for the rest of the league that the Heat might have found a PG who doesn’t suck (like Bibby) and who doesn’t have frequent onsets of idiocy (like Chalmers).

    Cole basically saved the Heat down the stretch in this game.

    • edweird0 - Dec 28, 2011 at 5:58 AM

      You say that like its a bad thing, last time I checked that’s what teammates were supposed to do.

      • david8726 - Dec 28, 2011 at 6:51 AM

        How am I saying it like it’s a bad thing? All I did was state a fact. He saved them at the end. I think it’s a great thing for the Heat that they now have another guy who can do that.

  4. mrsdestinydevine - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:07 AM

    Dear Chalmers, you are our weakest link. That is all.

  5. dikshuttle - Dec 28, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    The formula to defeat the Heat is still the same. Zone ‘em up. The question is, how will Miamuh respond? Cole was great last night, but you can’t count on that every game.

    Bosh needs to show up inside, especially late.

  6. adm350 - Dec 28, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    Good. Glad to see them playin well early. They had last year to gel. I’m sick of all the people bashing thm for not winning it all. They won the eastern conference in their first year and went to the final. That’s pretty darn good. They will shut everyone up this year.

  7. southbeachtalent - Dec 28, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Great thing is we will be seing a lot more zone, plenty of time to practice for the play-offs.

    No-no is nasty. We may have struck gold with this kid…..

    • BrownsTown - Dec 28, 2011 at 9:18 AM

      “We”

  8. havlicekstoletheball - Dec 28, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    The Celtics got killed on the boards.

    Between them, the starting frontcourt played 64 minutes and got six whole rebounds. Six. Between O’Neal and Pavlovic, the starting center and small forward, they got ONE. One more rebound than a dead man.

    That isn’t age. That is effort. As in, not putting forth much. Until they get that solved, they will continue to get killed. And will have earned it.

  9. atlmiamiheatfan - Dec 28, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    Miami should not have much to worry about against the zone defense. Boston made their come-back while Miami had only one starter, James, on the floor. Insert Wade into the offense, make an adjustment, and whamo! He slices, dices, and chops like Ginsu knives. With two powerful, cutting players on the floor, doing just that, Miami can quickly show why they are the dominant team against any defense. Miami has faced a zone before. They were just slow adapting and adjusting last night.
    I love the defensive craftiness Chalmers brings, but he disappears too often and 4 consecutive turn overs negates his efforts.
    Bosch needs to continue to emulate Wade with the spin move instead of looking like an out of control truck, diving into the offensive foul like he did against Dallas. Someone please tell him that big men who can see the entire floor, are supposed to pass well.
    Miami kept me wel entertained once again. I just hope that wr adapt, and when we put these teams away, we keep them there.

  10. suhnum1fan - Dec 28, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    The Heat will eventually fade…I can’t see them keeping page for the long haul

    • comeonnowguys - Dec 28, 2011 at 10:15 AM

      Too early and too weird a season to make grand pronouncements.

      Sure there will be a regression back to the norm, but to say the Heat are going to win 90% of their games (or free-fall at the end) is just talk now.

  11. akmia78 - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Where is the clip of Rondo airballing a layup?

  12. drugrehabnewyork - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Is it me, or has Dwayne Wade’s head grown, a little like Barry Bonds? And wasn’t Bosh a string bean just a few months ago? Maybe it’s me, but both of them are looking pretty pumped…

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