For the Heat, it was so easy to be gracious and complimentary, because they took the game of the Celtics' best player's life – Boston's best shot – and still beat them. The Celtics don't back down to the Heat, and Miami respects them for it. Boston does demand that out of teams, but in the past two years James and Wade have beaten the Celtics six of seven times in the playoffs. They've figured out the formula, and now they go to Boston for Games 3 and 4 to put them away once and for all. The Celtics were livid with the officials, yes, but mostly they were so, so angry with themselves. All those second and third chances they gave the Heat, when they needed a defensive rebound, a loose ball. "Demoralizing," Pierce said.
Demoralizing? Yes. Devastating? I don't think so. Call me crazy, but I refuse to believe that this team is done.
The Heat took care of business on their home court. Good for them. Now the Celtics have a chance at home to even up the series and turn it into a best of 3. Every game that passes gives the coaching staff (and Rondo who might as well be a coach) more information to dissect and pick apart. Gameplans will be tweaked and execution will be honed.
But most of all I can't count out this team because they have shown so much resilience in the past. Sure, this could be the end and it might not be enough this year, but time and time again they've proven that they cannot be counted out until the final buzzer sounds.
This team still has Paul Pierce, the king of comebacks. They still have Kevin Garnett who will not die quietly. They still have Ray Allen, greatest shooter alive. And they have Rajon Rondo, triple double machine who's best is as good as anyone's in the game.
They have too much pride, too much savvy, too much mental toughness to go quietly into that dark night. They are down, but you can never truly count them out. And if they go down, you can bet that they will go down swinging. And that's just one reason why I'm so proud of this team and feel lucky to be a fan.