The Miami Heat have often been lackadaisical in the motivational department. The franchise rarely plays with the anguish and desperation you see in championship teams and are usually on top of the league, even when they are not.
The Boston Celtics are everything that the Heat are not and vice versa. In Miami, you see a team that is 100 percent capable of running the colorways off their sneakers for 48 minutes and have possession of a player that can guard every man in the Boston Celtics’ organization.
In Boston, there is a team that plays with the resolve of a veteran squad and the mentality of a fighter in the most important moments of the game.
Boston grinds it out while Miami plays with flash and excitability. The Celtics get excited when they’re underdogs. They get excited when they can close out a game.
The Heat get excited when they fall.
That is their line of motivation.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, in the Indiana Pacers series, had smacked rock bottom, passing giggling Indiana fans on the way down. They were popped disrespectfully throughout Game 3 to drop two straight in a series where they were supposedly guiding the steering wheel.
In Game 4, LeBron dropped 40 PTS and 18 REBS while his “Batman” dropped 30 PTS. Right after being demoralized and brought down to the reality that they were not infallible, the Miami Heat came out swinging in a way that put them in the 2012 NBA Finals before they had even won the second-round series.
The Miami Heat panicked and survived in championship fashion. Backs against the wall? No problem. No Bosh? No problem. They still had Wade and James, which for a while was all they needed, at least against the Indiana Pacers.
Now they are facing the experienced, championship-contending Boston Celtics. No matter what fans may have assumed about the Celtics in the postseason, they have always believed that this franchise could make it back to the Finals, even if their road led through Miami.
Doc Rivers never gives his men an inch of disbelief when it comes to their potential this postseason, before they are broken up. He coaches with a sense of urgency and assurance that no one can see exuding from Miami’s sideline.
Coach Rivers can motivate his team from the depths of hell, and coach Erik Spoelstra can only reassure them of their stature and reputation.
Therefore, Miami has to once again look for something else for motivation. It will not come from the fans as they were steadily pouring out of the American Airlines Arena when the Heat had a reasonable chance at victory in Game 5.
It will not come from Coach Spoelstra.
It will come from a three-game winning streak that the Boston Celtics have been able to manufacture. It will come from a heated discussion, according to Michael Wallace of ESPN, behind closed doors in which Udonis Haslem, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade traded disappointment about Miami Heat breakdowns.
One of the biggest criticisms of the Heat, during their Big Three era, is that they lack self-accountability and comradery. When something goes wrong, fingers are pointed and backs are turned. Miami has not been as much of a union as a championship-contending squad should bolster, and there is rarely any moment of self-realization.
Hopefully within that heated discussion, an awakening took place. Through the finger pointing and blame-shifting, there should have been the epiphany that this is not a loss solely on any stars’ shoulders.
This was a team collapse that should have never happened, and as a team, Miami needs to wake up and realize what they are capable of, because potential has become a word growing weary in the Heat camp. Potential with the absence of grit and effort will never win LeBron and Bosh their first rings, or Wade his second.
The Celtics are giving the Heat a lesson on teamwork, dedication and preservation.
Miami has never learned how to survive in the wild, as they have primarily coasted through these last two seasons from the view of their penthouses.
It has become time to eat or be eaten, and an argument between Miami’s most influential players should be all it takes to prepare the meal.
Follow Joye Pruitt on @JoyetheWar
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