I'm going to have to buy a new TIVO soon. Right now, I have last season's Game 3 against the Heat, last last Sunday's demolition in the Garden, and now last night's offensive gem in Miami taking up almost ten hours of the DVR. They'll never be deleted. I revel in beating South Beach. There's just something about seeing Lebron's sour puss face that the double sized headband can't hide. (Seriously, does he care more about his stat line or his hair line?) It's a rare cold and wet morning in Los Angeles and I needed a little pick-me-up so I decided to watch the fourth quarter again.
By now, you've heard all of the statistics: the Celtics shot over 60% from the field, the highest shooting percentage Miami's Big Three have given up since being assembled. That performance prompted Lebron to call the Celtics "the best jump-shooting team in the league" and Wade to say "when they shoot like that, it's going to be tough to beat them." Those sound like compliments coming from a battered opponent, but let's be clear: those are veiled threats from a team that generate a lot of their offense from transition and YouTube highlights. They trust their own jump shot just as much as they trust Eddy Curry in a buffet line.
Last night was indicative of the contrast in styles between these two teams. Watch the fourth quarter from last night and you'll see how the Celtics and Heat plan to attack each other. With ten minutes to go and the game virtually tied, there were a few trends:
- Celtics pick-and-pop Garnett was literally perfect in the fourth quarter. He went 5-for-5 on jumpers, three of them generated by screen and fades with Rondo and Pierce. And late in the game, after KG had already torched them, Miami played the screens a little tighter and Pierce burned Bosh on the switch by driving it to the rack. With Garnett hitting everything outside of fifteen feet, that opened up the lane.
- Heat paint crash With the game in the balance, the Heat decided to just put their head down, dive into the lane, and pray for whistles. Their transition game had dried up because the Celtics were making shots and not turning the ball over so they turned to their superstars to get superstar calls. Almost a third of their points in the final frame came from the free throw line.
What does this mean? Well, after watching the game again, I'm now tempering my euphoria from the win. As cheap as I think it is, a team geared to get easy buckets is more likely to beat even the "best jump-shooting team in the league." If those shots don't go down in the fourth quarter, those long rebounds become fast breaks on the other end. Can the Celtics be on fire like that in a seven-game series? Pundits are saying no and that's probably true, but what they fail to mention is that the Heat won't shoot that well again either. Both teams shot well above their totals from their meeting ten days ago (Celtics 60.6% vs. 47.1%, Heat 44.8% vs. 34.8%). If the Celtics proved anything last night it's that they can win it in a shoot-out and that's great, but they need to clamp down. It's ironic that the team gave up so many points on the day the national media was atwitter about the Celtics defense. I'm sure Doc's preference is to see a game played in the 80's rather than in the 100's. In a game against the Clippers, Doc said, "we just had to make this game no fun." As fun as last night's sparkling shooting performance was, the Celtics can not expect to beat the Heat in the playoffs giving up 107 points.