We all know my reference with the headline. In the mid-1990’s blockbuster movie Apollo 13, the space craft malfunctions and they radio to headquarters, “Houston we have a problem”.
After dropping two straight to the Boston Celtics to even the Eastern Conference Finals 2-2, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company are shooting flares from the patios of their condominiums in order to tell Miami Heat Team President Pat Riley, they have a problem.
The Heat easily won game 1, 93-79. Actually, the score was closer than the actual game play was.
The Celtic’s Rajon Rondo then had the best night of his young career in game 2 with 44 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, but the Heat were still able to take the 2-0 series lead with a 115-110 overtime win. At this point, I thought Boston didn’t have a chance in the world of winning the series, let alone a game, if they can’t win when arguably the only Celtic in his prime has a historic night, his numbers had never been done before in an NBA Playoff game.
Welcome, to real life and the NBA where absolutely anything is possible.
I don’t know if it was Rondo’s individual performance in game 2 that woke up his team, but the Celtics have awoke and are ready to challenge the Heat in any capacity to notch the upset. Let’s face it, if the Celtics beat the Heat in a seven game series, it will be an upset to a large part of the basketball world. Who would initially choose three guys — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen –who are all 32-years-old or older, to beat a team with two of the league’s top five superstars (James and Wade)? Not this guy.
Well, with Boston proving to be another kind of monster at home in game 3 (101-91) and game 4 (93-91 OT), Miami has let the series get to a point favoring experienced veterans and teammates who have played many games together. Unfortunately for Riley and the Heat control center, neither one of these areas points to Miami as the winners in a 2-2 series.
On the other hand, James and Wade are on the team. I haven’t checked out ESPN’s First Take today, but I can already imagine Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith arguing over whether Wade took the right shot or could have done something different with miniscule seconds remaining on the OT clock.
Wade pumped fake the Celtics Marquis Daniels off his feet in what seemed like an attempt to make the trip to Miami for game 5 before the rest of the team even headed to the airport. The Heat superstar had a clear shot to the hoop, but it rattled out instead of going in. This might sound crazy to those who think every sporting event is another miracle just waiting to happen, but sometimes the go ahead home run gets caught at the warning track or three-point shot from half court barely skims the rim.
The last ditch three had a solid chance, but rolled out. It happens. It was a good shot that wasn’t great.
If the shot goes in, Miami is up 3-1 and the Heat head back home in what seems like a 80% chance to close out the series. Instead, there is a game 5 with the season’s life or death on the line.
The Celtics are hungry, even in their old age. Garnett, Pierce and Allen probably realize if they don’t get it done this time, there is no other time. This is with a doubt the last time these three players will be together in hopes of playing for or winning an NBA Championship. They’re cagy veterans and two out of the three — Garnett and Pierce — have made a Hall of Fame career by being the guys who want to win games and crush opponents morales.
After Wade missed the shot, I seen the faces of James, Chris Bosh (who hasn’t seen a second of play since the quarterfinals), Mike Miller and Shane Battier. While Wade smiled because he knew the ball could have rolled either way, the rest of the team seemed to notice that they’re is definitely a problem.
On paper or in the box score, there doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. The issue seems to be the difference in team dynamics as the Celtics were playing Keyon Dooling and Daniels in the final moments of the game with only Pierce fouled out. This means it was planned by Doc Rivers for a starter to be benched. He must have faith in his supporting role players.
When James fouled out, it seemed like the entire Earth feel on the shoulders of Wade. Battier got an open look for a three ball, but missed. Chalmers ran down the middle of the paint, threw up a runner, but missed.
Miami has to stop running ISO plays every other possession and open up the entirety of a playbook or the Celtics very well could pull the upset. If I was a betting man, my money would not leave a Miami bookie, but like we all know, anything can happen. Boston and Rivers are highly experienced and know what the Heat are going to do next.
If it wasn’t for the raw talent of the Heat’s superstars, the series would be 3-1 in favor of Boston because of their knowledge of the game. They’re probably watching tape right now of game 4 devising a plan strengthen the few defensive breakdowns. I’ve said this a million times in my career as a journalist, a solid, well rounded team will always beat a team playing with less than a full team.
If Miami wants to fix the problem, they have to do something new. Otherwise, the Heat are going down like Apollo 13 because Riley will blow the roster up if it doesn’t produce.