The Miami Heat are a better team than the Boston Celtics. So why are they down 3 games to 2? Let’s ignore the referees. I’m not in love with the way LeBron was fouled out of game 4, but I’ve maintained that the fouls have evened out, and the players have decided the games. No, the Heat is losing because the players aren’t playing up to their abilities.
You can question the players’ desire, and their effort has seemed lacking, but anyone who has played basketball knows you need to be put in the right position to win. Before I attack the coaching decisions, I’m looking right at the coach himself. When Pat Riley coached the Heat to a title, he was screaming at his players, “You’re better than these guys! You’re better than these guys!” Spoelstra doesn’t have that fire. Before the 4th quarter of game 5, he did an on-court interview with the sideline reporter. His team had blown a 10-point lead and was down 5 points going into the fourth, and Spoelstra seemed happy about the whole thing. There’s no way Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, any great coach would be smiling at that moment. Spoelstra is too happy to be the coach of the Miami Heat. He needs to light a fire under these guys. The Celtics were giving the ball away in the first half, and the Heat was giving it right back. They played intense defense only in spurts, and they were not attacking the basket, LeBron in particular. The coach of the Miami Heat needs to get in LeBron’s face, and let the whole team know they need to step up if they want to win the freaking game.
The Heat’s game starts with defense, and they need to defend the right players. LeBron should guard Rondo the entire game. Half the plays Rondo has made in the series have come from Heat players ignoring him! Play LeBron on Rondo with one job on defense – lock him down – and suddenly the Celtics are not a dynamic offense whatsoever. That leaves Wade to guard Pierce – which is fine, Wade is quicker and can get right in his face – and Chalmers running through screens to put a hand in Allen’s face. I want to see Joel guarding KG, with Bosh there to help out. When Bosh and Haslem play together, I want Bosh to guard KG with Haslem helping out.
These are the best matchups for the Heat, but the key to the whole thing is intensity. If they play like they didn’t realize there’s a basketball game going on for half the game, forget about it. But if the Heat give maximum effort on defense, and drive and kick on offense, they should repeat their performance from Game 1, and blow this old, slow, obnoxious Boston team that could barely beat Philadelphia out of the water. If I were the coach of the Heat, I would show them last year’s Game 5, over and over and over again.
“You’re better than these guys! You’re better than these guys!”
Now play like it.