NBA Playoff Schedule: Heat's Unstable Role Players Prolonging Conference Finals

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJune 3, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 01:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics looks to pass the ball in the first half against Shane Battier #31 and Mike Miller #13 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 1, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Miami Heat are going to defeat the Boston Celtics, but the series is being elongated because LeBron James and Dwyane Wade won't get consistent help from the role players. This series could have ended in a sweep, but the "Warm", (my nickname for any Heat player not named James, Wade or Chris Bosh) weren't good enough in Game 3, and I predict they won't be again in Game 4.

Unless Bosh returns and delivers a spirited effort, this series is going to go back to Miami tied at two games apiece.

Game 4 is set for Sunday, at 7:30 ET on ESPN, and I'm predicting an eight-point victory for the Celtics.

Why?

It's pretty simple, marginal players play better at home, especially in the postseason. This is the way it has always been the case. That is why it usually takes a huge performance from stars to pull out tough road games in the playoffs.

The Heat's stars were just good in Game 3, not great and it wasn't enough. Shane Battier, a catalyst for the "Warm," was 0-of-6 from the field, and while Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller produced solid games, the Heat were beaten on the boards 44-32.

I blame the "Warm" big-men, Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony for this, they had a combined three rebounds in 21 minutes. Collectively, the "Warm" didn't defend well, and the stars couldn't bail them out.

James and Wade had a combined 52 points, and you'd like to think that would be enough, but it wasn't. Honestly, it probably won't ever be enough for this team to win on the road in the playoffs.

James had 34 points and led the team with eight rebounds, but he was 1-of-5 from the free-throw line.

Wade had 18 points, and that simply isn't enough scoring from him on the road. Those small shortcomings from the stars are magnified because the "Warm" couldn't heat up.

With Bosh out, James and Wade need to score 60 points per game for the team to win on the road. They had 70 in Game 4 against the Pacers, and 69 in Game 6 to close them out.

It will take an explosion like that to win in Boston, and I don't think we'll get that in Game 4.

The "Warm" will return with a strong effort in Game 5 to give Miami the must-win. Then in Game 6, James and Wade will treat us to another gruesome twosome performance to close out the Celtics.

This is the reality for this peculiar and polarizing team.

 

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