There's no mystery to the Miami Heat. They have a very straightforward gameplan. Push the ball on the break and when it goes to halfcourt, get everyone out of the way and give it to one of the stars to make something happen. If you can limit their transition game and play good help defense, you can beat them. But that's easier said than done.
The Heat happen to have 2 of the best transition and one on one players in the sport. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade simply can't be stopped on a consistent basis. We can tease Coach Spolestra all we want about his unimaginative isolation plays, but when it boils down to it, sometimes his best play is to give it to James or Wade and let them pick apart the other team. A flawless defense should be able to stop any offensive player (it all seems so easy when you draw it up on the whiteboard) but no defense is flawless. There are always holes to take advantage of and the Heat are some of the best at doing that.
Steve Bulpett elaborates.
Miami has on its side hype and hoopla and an opportunistic offense that feeds on opponents’ mistakes and operates well in open spaces. If the Celtics can avoid getting caught up in all that — if they can stick to their game even when LeBron James soars in for a dunk that registers on the Richter scale at the ESPN studios — they will have an advantage.
Thankfully the Celtics happen to be one of the best in the league at minimizing mistakes on defense (that is, when they are locked in and focused). Fighting through screens, rotating over when someone has to switch, showing and recovering, moving feet instead of gambling for steals or reaching in for fouls, all these are fundamentals to executing effective defense. If the Celtics can focus on the little things, they'll have the advantage.
The same goes on the other end of the court. They would love to get out and run to get easy transition buckets, but if they run a half court set they just have to execute their gameplan.
But if there’s nothing available, the Celtics must then patiently go about the mundane work of setting good picks and making hard cuts and passing the ball until they get the Heat to make a rotational mistake. This is also known as the mundane work of playing like a champion.
All of this is much easier said than done. Miami didn't win 58 games by mistake. They are a really, really good basketball team and they are learning as they go. Thankfully the Celtics are a really, really good team and if they can focus on the goal at hand, they should be able to win this series. Simple, but not easy.