The Miami Heat continue their resting plan for Dwyane Wade, putting more pressure on LeBron James and the rest of the team. Once again, it almost cost them a victory, but they managed to pull through and beat the Boston Celtics 93-86.
After a lot of talk about their defensive problems, the Miami Heat shut down the Celtics offense in the fourth quarter and especially in the final four minutes of the game, although considering their opponents it might not have been the biggest achievement in basketball history.
LeBron James finished with 29 points, scoring 11 of them in the fourth quarter. Chris Bosh added 16 points on 7-of-10 from the field, as the Heat came back from two points behind (84-86 with 3:08 left in the game) with a 9-0 run in the final stretch.
Chris Andersen did a good job from the bench, scoring 13 points on 5-5 from the field, adding 7 rebounds as well. Michael Beasley finished with 9 points on 4-of-6 from the field as the other significant contributor off the bench.
The Heat are now 25-1 when they allow less than 100 points; they’re 5-11 when they allow more. It says something about how important their defense is to their overall success, and how this offense might not be able to catch up with fast, high-scoring teams anymore, just like their 7 points loss to the Atlanta Hawks on the previous night suggested. The Heat are now 6-6 without Dwyane Wade and 24-6 when he does play.
They almost had to do without his replacement in the lineup, Ray Allen (7 points); Allen picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter but Erik Spoelstra decided to take a gamble and leave him in, which worked out pretty well for the Heat down the line.
Miami managed to build up an 18 point lead at a certain point, but went on what some refer to as Auto-Pilot (or coasting) which helped the Celtics, hungry to upset Miami at home for the second time this season, started making a come back.
Rajon Rondo was awful, with 0-of-8 from the field and with 1 points. Kris Humphries did a good job, like most big players against the Heat, scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 from the field, adding 13 rebounds. Jared Sullinger scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but in general the Celtics were having an awful shooting day: 39.3% from the field, 18.5% from beyond the arc and turning the ball over 16 times. Miami aren’t that fear-inspiring like before, especially when Wade doesn’t play, but it’s impossible to beat them with shooting numbers such as these.
For the Heat this was a needed rebound after their loss to the Hawks. LeBron James needed a big game and a special fourth quarter to make this one work, but that was all known before this season began: Without Dwyane Wade for what might become 20 games when this season ends, it’s going to be more and more on James to take games on his shoulders and finish the job. In order for that to work at an acceptable rate the defense has to look like it did in the win over the Celtics.