Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics 10/30/2012 – Opening Night Review
For six years the 2006 NBA Champions banner sat alone amongst the rafters with only an ill placed, giant, retired Michael Jordan jersey to keep it company. For six years that banner watched and looked on in disappointment as the defending champs got destroyed by the Chicago Bulls on ring night by more than 40 points. For six years that banner saw the likes of Michael Beasley, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamal Magloire, and Antoine Walker walk onto its court, disappoint, and walk off into obscurity. For six years that banner watched as Coach Spoelstra, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Pat Riley were ridiculed, and their integrity and ability was questioned on a regular basis.
But no more. No more will that 2006 Champions banner will look down onto its court alone, no more will the franchise that helped raise it be known as a one hit wonder. Last night, the 2006 Champions banner, met its soul mate, and it was amazing how different they are and yet how much in common they have. Last night, the 2006 Champions banner met the 2012 Champions banner. Raised on the back of a once known, fool King, raised on the strength of an extinct, reptilian Center, raised on the broken body of the jester who just wants to “Let It Fly” raised on the wallet of a white-haired billionaire and on the guile of a slick, well simply put a slick Godfather.
The banner was raised, the ring embedded with 219 glistening diamonds, molded from malleable white and yellow gold. The word “Family” etched into the gaudy piece of jewelry symbolizing greatness, but more importantly etched into their hearts and into their every action, was presented.
The banner was raised, and then just like that it was forgotten, because it was time to start a new. It was time to welcome the newest members of their family, to bring in Rashard Lewis a man forgotten by the world, once a star now an after thought, to bring in a future Hall of Famer, who has been shunned by his friends, by former brothers in arms, for simply making a decision that he felt was the best for him.
The banner was raised, and then just like that it was forgotten, because it was time to start a new. For teams like the Dallas Mavericks, whose stars had fought and clawed for a long time, a championship is a destination. For LeBron James and the Miami Heat it is merely a starting point.
The media and ESPN won’t ever let them forget, “Not one, not two, not three…” I don’t think you have anything to worry about there, this team isn’t going to forget. “Not one, not two, not three…” was a moment lost to adrenaline, excitement and braggadocio. “Not one, not two, not three…” is now a war cry. Something to be worn on their sleeves. Something fans, coaches, executives, and players a like can hold in their hearts and on the tips of their collective tongues. “Not one, not two, not three…”
The game was close at two points, the first quarter, before Heat hopped onto their speed boats and left the Celtics duck, paddle boats in their rearview, and in the fourth quarter, when LeBron had to once again leave with cramps, but the second run only lasted as long as the reptilian Chris Bosh would allow it to.
The Heat looked exactly as you would expect a team in its third year of playing together to look. Smooth, efficient, and almost unstoppable. Erik Spoelstra’s position free, Oregon Duck, offense was working so brilliantly that they only way to describe it would be as a genius of Phil Jackson-like proportions.
The same can be said of the Celtics, not that they also performed with a Phil Jackson-esq dominance, but that they also looked exactly as you would expect, a gritty, veteran team to look. They played hard, their will to win was never extinguished even when they were down by more than 15 points early in the fourth quarter, and slow.
Shane Battier/Mike Miller:
Both of these players are responsible for contributing in similar manners, hit open threes, play defense and grab rebounds. Starting in the playoffs last year, it appears that Shane Battier has clearly separated himself as the superior player. Not only is this evident in Battier’s role as a starter, but also because Miller still looks broken. He stands hunched over whenever he isn’t running after the ball, his first step to rebounds, or open spots on the court are not what they used to be as recently as a few years ago, and so not surprisingly Miller isn’t getting the minutes that he or the Heat expected.
Battier on the other hand, is proving that even at his advanced age he can adapt, playing Power Forward for long stretches on defense, and has found his range again, hitting open 3′s the way you expect Shane Battier to. Battier has also become somewhat of cult hero to Heat fans, just look up #BattierTrashTalk on twitter. (You’re welcome)
The future Hall of Famer made his regular season debut for the Heat, and against his former teammates, the team he saw his greatest successes with, the Boston Celtics. Both before and after the game, the adults handled the situation amicably, exchanging dap and pleasantries. The children however chose to pout, even when Allen tried to acknowledge his old friend with a tap on the shoulder, Garnett pouted and ignored Allen giving him the proverbial cold shoulder.
Too bad for the Celtics and Garnett, this didn’t seem to affect Allen in the least. His ankles, and knees looked healthy as he cut and slashed to the basket with ease and drained three’s with the ease that only the greatest three-point shooter in the history of the game can. In 30 minutes he scored 19 points on 5/7 shooting, 2/3 from beyond the arch. He also contributed 2 boards and 2 assists and got to the free-throw line 8 times. Not to mention his ability to bring the ball up the court and the defense he played against the Celtics guards.
WE GOT RAY!
Wade’s night was highly inconsistent, full of highs and lows, something Heat fans might have to get used to this year, as Wade gets older and struggles with wanting to consistently do the types of things he’s done his entire career; exploding to the rim, finishing with jaw jacking dunks, and hitting mid range jumpers with ease.
Wade scored 29 points in 35 minutes shooting 10/22; a vast majority of the 10 makes coming from inside of 15 feet, he also got to the line 11 times. The surprising aspects of Wade’s performance was not that he missed layups and shots around the basket that we’ve seen him make a thousand times, those things happen from time to time, but it was the 4 turnovers which is what the rest of the team had combined.
Wade was also hindered offensively by the younger and what seems now similarly explosive Courtney Lee who did an excellent job of keeping Wade away from the rim in the instances he found himself one on one with Wade and when Wade did get past him, it was always with a wide-angle forcing Wade to take and make difficult shots.
Chalmers led the team in minutes with 36 and seems to be settling into his role perfectly. I expect the days of the Big 3 incessantly yelling at Chalmers after his guaranteed 4 or 5 bonehead mistakes a game to be a thing of the past. I only noticed one truly knucklehead moment last night, early in the first quarter when Rio tried to force his way to the basket instead of making the right play and dishing the ball out to a slasher or a shooter. Other than that he did exactly what is expected of and needed from him.
He scored 8 points on 3/7 shooting with a couple of freethrows. Where his game stood out was in how aggressive he was on the defensive end against Rondo. He took a lot of chances going after the ball, because he trusted that his teammates would be in the right position to cut Rondo off in case Rio missed. He ended the night tallying 3 steals, and an assist to turnover ratio of 11:1!
Chalmers is turning into the efficient player that the Heat need him to be, and if this transformation is permanent, well that’s just scary.
Bosh led the team in minutes along with Mario Chalmers at 36, in rebounds with James at 10 and in blocks with 3. Bosh was aggressive against Bass, Garnett and Sullinger going after rebounds, something he was criticized for not doing during the regular season last year. Bosh seems to have bought into his role as the big man on this team, and it is never more evident than when the Heat go with their small, 3 guard lineup of Cole/Chalmers, Wade and Allen.
Bosh also score 19 points on 8/15 shooting getting to line only 4 times. The most impressive part of Bosh’ game last night was that on a team with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen, he was the closer. Bosh scored the last 7 points (not including Rondo’s cheap shot on Wade leading to two Flagrant Free Throws) for the Heat and put away the game just as the Celtics were rallying and brought the game within single digits.
The Flying Death Machine of Death! What do I really need to say about his performance? It was dominant. LeBron got the rim at will, his mid-range jumper fell no matter the angle it was taken from, oh and he added a couple of threes for good measure, scoring 26 points on 10/16 shooting in 28 minutes with 10 rebounds and 3 assists.
Why only 28 minutes? Well it’s because LeBron started cramping up again, but like all superstars he did deliver on the dramatic end by staying in the game and hitting a three (not as important or impressive as the cramp 3 he hit in the finals, but dramatic none the less) before being taken out for the rest of the game. He was taken out earlier in the game, taken to the locker room, worked on and re-entered the game. Is it me, or does this stuff only happen to LeBron and only happen when he plays teams like the Celtics and Thunder. (I love this game).
Garnett was surly, and angry before the game, slow and creaky during and cranky after. It’s official KG is my grandpa.
His inability to act professional for even a moment was evident during the pre-game festivities as he refused to even acknowledge Ray Allen’s existence. His inability to keep up with the athletes of the Heat was evident as he only scored 9 points in 31 minutes on 4/8 shooting and only went to the line once. He did lead the game in rebounds with 12 and led his team in blocks with 2.
He couldn’t get to the basket, and had a really hard time finding the soft spots in the defense for him to line up and drill his mid-range jumper. Also his defense was non-existent as Wade, Rio, Allen and James got to the basket at will and Brandon Bass guarded Bosh on most one on one situations. He also had 5 turnovers.
I don’t think this is a sign of things to come. He’s one of the best ever, and will have a great year (or maybe this is it for him and he’s done, one game won’t tell us) but Bosh is a massive mismatch for him since they have a similar game and at this point Bosh is much younger and more athletic.
I’m a fan, I know he’s a Celtic and I hate the Celtics, but I’m a fan of this guy. He’s an excellent role player, that does all of the little things. He’s a good rebounder, a good post-up defender, a good shooter and a smart ball player. He contributed 15 points in 28 minutes on 6/11 shooting, making it to the line 4 times and he added 11 rebounds.
Lee is an efficient and athletic scorer, who did and will make the most of the limited opportunities he should continue to get this season. He scored 11 points on 5/6 shooting and he went 1/1 from three. He did have 5 fouls, but that will happen when you’re defending Wade, and even with the fouls Lee did an excellent job. Wade didn’t have any easy opportunities when Lee was on the floor.
He put on a stellar performance once again, finishing just 3 rebounds short of a triple-double. Rondo scored 20 points on 9/14 shooting (going 0/2 from three) with 7 rebounds and 13 assists.
Where he struggled last night was with turnovers. He finished with 4, as Chalmers harassed him all night. Rondo still doesn’t have a consistent mid-range jump shot and if the defense collapses (which is difficult to do against him because he can make any pass regardless of difficulty) when he drives, his only options are to take a difficult layup or make a difficult pass.
But he’s so damn good at making those difficult layups and difficult passes, I’m not sure how much it matters. (Well it clearly matters against the Heat, but not against anyone else in the East.)
Pierce played well last night, directing traffic both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, he finished with 2 steals, 5 assists, 5 rebounds went to the line 9 times and had 0 turnovers. Pierce also scored 23 points in 40 minutes with 2 three pointers, unfortunately it was on 6/15 shooting.
At this point in his career Pierce is limited to using his intelligence on defense, and mid-range and three-point shots on offense. Pierce can’t get to the rim anymore and missed a layup when he did.
Instant offense! 16 points in 15 minutes on 6/8 shooting and 3/3 for three. Barbosa singlehandedly brought the Celtics back to within single digits in the fourth quarter. He looks like he’s in shape for the first time in a few years and isn’t the same guy that couldn’t get past me in the playoffs last year.
It was a fun as hell game and I’m so happy that the NBA is back. And if you’re a Heat fan, just smile because you get 82 games of this. 82 games of Flying Death Machines, of wide open threes, of Reptilian Centers, and of Norris Cole flat tops.