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Heat-Celtics Game 6: It has to be LeBron/Wade show for Heat to survive

Jun 7, 2012, 12:46 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James and Wade react after a play against the Boston Celtics during the first half in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoffs in Boston Reuters

In all the schadenfreude over watching the Miami Heat lose and seem to unravel, one thing seems to be consistently overlooked — the Boston Celtics are a really good defensive team. They were second in the league in points allowed per possession, they blow up pick-and-rolls, they are tough to score on in isolation. They slow down everyone. They were going to slow down the Heat.

But if LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are really on there is no defense that can stop them.

And that’s what this series has come down to for the Heat — they need LeBron and Wade to be exceptional to win. Not good, like combining to score 57 points on 47 shots in Game 5, they need to be world beaters. Both of them. Every game. They need to put up 65 at least between them and hope that Chris Bosh can pitch in more (he will play more).

Those two especially are going to have to do that on the road in Game 6 because the Heat can’t count on anyone else. If they are going to force a Game 7 it will because the Heat’s stars carried Game 6.

Boston’s offense has looked solid enough the last few games against the Heat, most of that due to Rajon Rondo. He is running the pick-and-roll beautifully with Kevin Garnett (getting KG easy looks rolling to the rim or open spot up 18 footers), he is hitting a few outside shots and he is controlling the flow of this series. Throw in some good buckets from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and it’s good enough.

Miami is helping out with defensive lapses — often ones of effort. How many times did the old legs of Boston just outrun the Heat players down he floor in Game 5? Dwyane Wade was not alone but was the most prominent guy just getting beat down court, forced into bad matchups because of it that Rondo and the Celtics exploit. That’s not on coach Erik Spoelstra, either — if you can’t get fired up for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to bust it every single play there is nothing a coach can do.

Remember, the Heat entered this season wanting to up the tempo — play pressing defense, force turnovers, get out in transition and overwhelm with their athleticism. We saw that kind of defense in Game 1 and the second half of Game 4 from Miami, but that’s it. It was supposed to be their identity, but it isn’t. Not every game, not every play. The committment and effort are not there.

And at the end of the day, that is what this series is about. Boston is a good team that will play good defense and give you maximum effort every night. They will be the best team they can be.

Miami plays like it can flip the switch. But that switch almost never stays on for a full game. They will have a fantastic quarter then go back to coasting on both ends, something they can still win doing in the regular season but it leads to bad habits. The Heat are very self-conscious and that can throw off their confidence in a heartbeat. The Celtics will just put their head down and fight through those kinds of stretches.

Which is why you have to think Boston has the edge at home – this will be their best effort, best game of the series. That’s still not good enough to beat Miami’s best, but do you really think we’ll see that for 48 minutes at both ends of the floor? Do you really think this is the night Wade and LeBron both show up and play their best games? I’m just not sold.

  1. larsonjs - Jun 7, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Funniest, most inane article I’ve read on the series yet. If Boston stops them, it’s just that they weren’t on? What on earth does that mean? You could say that about anyone and when your guy was stopped, you can simply say, “he wasn’t on.”

    I think teams beat individuals and the Heat still has not learned to play together as a team. Lebron taking one quarter and Wade taking the next is not exactly team play. I believe and I hope Boston creams them and I am a life long Celtic hater! I’m a hater, but I’ve always respected the fact that Boston will always show up to play. Watching them beat the Lakers through the years was painful, but they didn’t whine and cry like the Heat does. The Heat floppers and whiners drive me crazy. If I ever see Wade not pout and cry every time he has gone to the hole, I’ll faint and fall over. I’m sick of seeing James with his magnificent body crash into people and then expect a foul call when he initiated all contact. Play with courage and skill, not for a foul call.

    May the heat be vanquished from the playoffs and the ludicrous experiment of the Big 3 that will win 7 championships be ended. I’m tired of the excuses and obsession with a team that is not that good.

  2. mornelithe - Jun 7, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Do I think the Heat (The TEAM) has it in them to beat Boston tonight? Sure. Has Lebron and Wade actually managed to do what you say at all this year? Not once, in any game against the Celtics this year have Wade and James combined for 65 points. What could possibly make you think they’ll do that now? It’s just not going to happen.

    Also, they beat the Celtics twice, without putting up 65 points combined, so really, I think your advice is pretty ill-advised. They need to play as a _team_. The second Lebron and Wade realize there are more people on their team and utilize them appropriately, the Heat will be a much more dominant force. Until then, they’re never going to be able to take it all the way because all it will take is a defensively oriented team to shut them down for a little while and deflate their tires.

    Unless a miracle happens and LBJ/Wade realize they aren’t the only people on their team, Boston’s closing this series out tonight.

  3. cantonbound13 - Jun 7, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    LeBron is about to play in a huge game, anyone know the Heimlich maneuver

  4. packhawk04 - Jun 7, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Did someone really say nobody expected a title in their first season????? Talk about DE-LU-SION-AL.

  5. cdboss - Jun 7, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    How about D’Antonio for coach. Can’t be any worse that Spolestra.

  6. diamondmo33 - Jun 7, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Lebron is proving why he’s the MVP…
    Heat will win the NBA championship.

  7. drewzducks - Jun 7, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Obviously doesn’t have to be a LeBron/Wade show. LBJ was a one man wrecking crew tonight. If he can keep up that determination they just may have a shot against OKC.

  8. jucam1 - Jun 7, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    I mean, that was Jordan-esq…… The man destroyed Boston!…. What a talent, what a player, poor Celtics they looked defeated…

  9. klownboy - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    I didn’t think the Celts would last past five games, but here they are. Gotta love their heart…
    http://wp.me/p1gCK6-oB

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