At one point in the critical stages of last night’s NBA Playoff Game 4 between Boston and Miami I thought I had accidentally hit the remote and turned on CBS. There were so many players performing like Charlie Sheen’s chronically drunken character on “Two And A Half Men” it was…staggering. (I don’t know how he’s so good in that role…)
Yet as both teams teetered back and forth trying to help each other win, for those fans heavily invested in these squads it was gut wrenching, nail-biting, nerve ending, beautiful/ugly theatre. Reminded me of the up-and-down, end-to-end NHL Playoffs…lots of frantic activity with no scoring. No disrespect to hockey at all…but in basketball there usually are a few more successful possessions.
By the end of the night, even though both teams took yet one more opportunity to give the other a chance to win in regulation the Heat jumped all over the Celtics to begin overtime and eventually toasted a 98-90 win. They now lead the series 3-1 headed back to South Beach. Game 5 on Wednesday.
There was concern in Boston the back-to-back scheduling would favor the Heat last night over the veteran (i.e. older) Celtics – not to mention Rajon Rondo having to quickly adapt to his “new” elbow. That certainly seemed to be the case at times as Boston had chances to build on their early success but could not pull away. The way the Celtics went out last evening further advanced that thinking. And now – with travel – their chance to fight off elimination comes as soon as tomorrow night.
Boston has to maximize each and every possession because they get no second chances. We all knew that going in. Every time they get the ball after a miss is comparable to finding buried treasure at the bottom of the sea. Last night…three offensive rebounds in regulation and OT combined. The Celtics are not built for anything less than perfection on offense. One-and-done. They must execute flawlessly.
The combination of an aggressive, youthful Heat defense and the “veteran” Celtics need for perfection with the ball intersected with 19.5 seconds left. Boston possession. Paul Pierce waits for the called play to unfold in front of him. A play that never materialized. (ESPN story and video playlist here.) Overtime.
Miami had their chance prior to this failure to execute but LeBron James…once more with the ball and the game on the line…failed to execute as well and turned the ball over.
That about concludes all he did wrong last night.
James played spectacularly with 35 points, 14 boards…playing in all but three minutes. Wade played five fewer minutes than James and still posted 28 points, 9 boards.
The Big Two didn’t blink in the bright lights, on the big stage…but what of their “Half Man” Chris Bosh? The Chris Bosh who lit up the Internet with his remarks after Game 3 about how emotion got the best of him in those bright lights, on that big stage.
44 minutes, 20 points, 12 boards…and a clutch tip-in with the Heat up 93-90 in the OT.
Yours truly had given up on Bosh completely and yours truly was wrong. While his first half left you wondering…his second half left you admiring. Admittedly, Bosh had some assistance with a lack of resistance from Kevin Garnett, who was as horrible in Game 4 as terrific in Game 3. Garnett spent most of the evening wrapped in some kind of thick, New England fog. This did not come in handy when Pierce was frantically signaling for KG to execute on the designed play in the last moments of regulation.
On this night for Miami there were Three Men, not Two And A Half. And as we have seen this season…when the Heat do not have to settle for a fraction…the math usually always adds up to a victory.