2011 NBA Playoffs Notebook: Miami Heat, Boston Celtics
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With the impressive act of two technical fouls in less than a minute, Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce put into sight what was already becoming an overwhelming thought: Miami is better than Boston, and probably better than the rest of the league at this point of the season.
The Heat beat Boston at its own game Sunday.
The frustration associated with this realization led Pierce to react the same way anyone would react when told that his or her wife was having an affair. And not just a normal affair, but a rendezvous with none other than Larry O’Brien. He overreacted, then he overreacted again, and then he was tossed, like a garden salad from your favorite gas station, tossed.
Told to leave because he could not handle this pressure like a reasonable adult. Told to leave because, sorry, there’s another sheriff in town.
And so went Boston’s chances of winning this series.
The Heat beat the Celtics because Miami is Boston, give or take a few minor tweaks for the better. The Big Three of just a year ago is like most products we possess today: already old and about to be replaced in a year.
Unfortunately for Boston, it’s that time of year. The new Big Three is younger and fresh. The new Big Three has role players to complement them, not a role player among them.
Miami beat Boston despite the Celtics shooting 12-24 from beyond the arc, including 5-8 from three-point legend Ray Allen. Although these numbers alone would suggest a Celts’ victory a majority of the time, Miami’s James Jones bested Allen with a 5-7 mark while helping the Heat shoot 9-19 from downtown themselves.
Miami beat Boston by being “chippy,” as Boston coach Doc Rivers described in his post-game press conference. If there was ever a team that was chippy, in the history of chip and pee, it is this version of the Celtics.
Miami beat Boston because they’re more athletic and, incredibly, the deeper team.
The bench that is more likely to sport the game-changer that can change a game, a la Jamal Crawford, is the Heat’s. The team that is more likely to execute the momentum-altering designed alley-hoop or freestyle touchdown pass that counts as two points only in the scorer’s book is Miami’s.
Miami beat Boston because, despite the Celtics’ recent postseason disappointments, the Heat are the hungrier team, eager to prove that everyone who doubted them was wrong.
The only way to do that is win. Win, and the “Decision” goes down in history as the best one anyone ever made. Win, and the most-hyped team in league history, featuring the most-hyped player in league history, will go down as one of the best in league history—and just getting started.
Miami, however, has one last thing to overcome in its “process,” as Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has described the journey that is year one of the Big Treat. The confidence gained from defeating “big brother” in the postseason should not be understated.
This confidence, of course, has always been there. The Heat always knew they could beat this team. But when it actually happens, that confidence grows like a shaved eye-brow: uncontrollably and with no regard for its surroundings.
In this time of posturing and grandstanding, as in Kobe’s scowl, there is an undeniable sixth sense that allows the best teams to separate themselves as such. Once it manifests, it can create something as simple as a dynasty, or, in today’s sporting world, mini-dynasties.
The Lakers are the closest example, considering their two-straight titles.
The Celtics could have been the Lakers, save a key injury or two. The Spurs were last true one—four years ago. The one thing that these championship teams never lacked, nor do they now, is that confidence that always reminds them that they are the best—the confidence that only comes from proving yourselves.
The Heat are almost there, if they can just be more like Boston. Of course, it’s a chippy process.
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