Some games, numbers and even making clutch shots isn’t enough to win. LeBron James did send the game into overtime with a big three to end regulation, but he also dragged his team into a bad offensive display, and couldn’t prevent a game winning shot against a team the Miami Heat were supposed to beat.
Fresh and high from a four game winning streak, the Miami Heat rode in confident heading into Boston. Ray Allen really didn’t mind the welcoming committee and finished with 21 points on a 7-17 night from the field. LeBron James finished with a very impressive 31 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Chris Bosh had 16 points and 16 rebounds.
But the Heat couldn’t get their transition game going; The Heat are ranked in the top three in both offensive and defensive efficiency in transition, but finished with only 14 points in 58 minutes. They defended well, making their 20 turnovers look a little less costly than they should have, but simply couldn’t get an easy shot from close to the basket as the game winded down to its crucial minutes.
The Heat’s average distance per field goal attempt was 20.9 feet from the basket in the fourth quarter. It was 12.2 feet during the first three quarters. During the final 10:44 minutes, the Heat attempted only one shot from within 5 feet of the basket. The Boston Celtics are no longer a defensive powerhouse, but the Heat looked to back off in front of the surprising physicality of the exhausted hosts (playing after a double overtime game, eventually playing back to back double overtime games), and tried their luck with contested shot after contested shot.
Going for long range shots isn’t such a bad idea, but that works only when you have the right kind of ball movement to make it work. The Heat didn’t, and couldn’t get open looks. Dwyane Wade finished with only 17 points, shooting a terrible 6-20 from the field and 0-4 from beyond the arc. Not including LeBron James, the rest of the Miami Heat made only 11.7% of their three point attempts. Mario Chalmers didn’t score a single point despite not seeing Rondo in front of him. Miami had the game for the taking, but played the wrong kind of basketball in order to win it.
This was the kind of games that you need to go up smelling blood and getting motivated by it. The Boston Celtics fit the wounded beast metaphor without Rajon Rondo and six consecutive losses. Instead, the Heat couldn’t take advantage of 17 offensive rebounds and the rest of their obvious individual advantages against the Celtics. This won’t matter because this isn’t the kind of loss that will throw the Heat off balance and make them lose their delicate hold on the top spot in the East, but when you have an opportunity to put an opponent away, especially the kind of rival the Celtics have become to this team, you take advantage of it.