LeBron James had zero assists, and the the Miami Heat looked once again like a team with zero chance of winning a big road game, this time against an opponent not many think can prove much of a threat to any of the contenders come the postseason. But Rajon Rondo thrived with another triple double, leading the Boston Celtics to a 91-72 win.
As usual, with every one of the Heat’s games, the focus on their big three eclipses the merits of the winners. All of the Celtics’ starters scored in double figures, lead by Paul Pierce who finished with 23 points, while both Brandon Bass (10 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (11 rebounds, 14 assists) scored 16 points. James Finished with 23 points, Dwyane Wade with 15, but that was pretty much it.
But Rondo’s abilities and ease in which he dominated both Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole during ample and unsuccessful time on the court should be the key to understand the Heat’s problems, and maybe the answer to Spoelstra’s struggles to find the right to generate points through half court offense.
LeBron James should be the point guard, sharing that load with Dwyane Wade. Mario Chalmers? A good defender, a good shooter, but not a ball handler, not someone who should be making playmaker’s decisions. Norris Cole? Speed and energy off the bench, not someone who should be trying to make defense splitting passes. James is the best passer on the team, one of the finest in the league.
Doc Rivers talked about the lack of need to trap James. Trapping him, bringing in help on defense, and that forces James to pass. He’s much more dangerous as a passer then when trying to beat players one on one through set plays. The Heat either don’t have any decent players or just don’t execute them well, relying too much on individual ability, a bane of too many NBA teams who lack any creativity involving play calling.
The Miami Heat looked great last postseason against the Boston Celtics, but enjoying Rajon Rondo’s hurt arm was of great benefit for James and Wade, finally beating a team that stood in their way, on separate teams, for more than one postseason campaign. Winning in Boston during the regular season seems to be a very difficult hurdle as well for the Heat, pre and during the LeBron James era. Something in the defense and intensity levels that the Celtics tune to in these games seems to be too much.
It’s hard sometimes,gauging regular season games properly. Things, naturally, seem very different in the postseason. Less surprises, more concentration. But the Heat, right now, need a change. The losses to the Thudner, the Bulls and the Celtics clearly are looking awfully similar to last season’s regular season problems, but the Heat turned it around until Dallas came along.
This time? I think Spoelstra needs to get more creative. Great defense creating easy points through fast breaks and open plays won’t be enough once again. Maybe not even getting through the East.