We’re going back to South Beach for this one. The eastern conference finals kicked off in spectacular fashion for Miami Heat, going 2-0 up even with Rajon Rondo having the game of his life in game 2. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and everything was fine. A nightmare trip to Boston, and 5 days later the series are tied, and we now have a 3 game series on our hands.
Dwyane Wade missed the game winning shot at the end of overtime, off a solid look. If he had knocked the shot down, Miami would be 3-1 up and the series would be all but over. It was never going to be easy, and the Heat are learning it the hard way at the moment.
Keys to the game
Game 4 was an improvement from game 3 for Miami, but the same problem remained. Wade and James only managed to combine for 13 free throw attempts in an overtime game. Sure, the number might be somewhat misleading, as both James and Wade looked more aggressive, and James got a lot of easy layups in the paint early, but they both need to get to the line more.
LeBron James is probably the only player in the league that can put up and efficient 29 points and still get criticism. Maybe we are too spoiled and expect greatness whenever “the King” steps on the court, but he didn’t have a great game. The 29 points aside, James had 7 turnovers, only 6 rebounds and 3 assists, and was forced to watch the end of the game from the sidelines as he fouled out. If Miami want to win without Bosh, James has to play better than he did in game 4. I stressed the importance of him being a distributor on offense, helping his teammates establish a rhythm early in the game. In 48 minutes he only had 3 assists and early on he was the one carrying the scoring load, as Boston got out to a quick start. Miami simply cannot dig themselves into an early hole every single game, and James making his teammates better is one of the keys to that.
Dwyane Wade had another slow start, shooting poorly from the field until the second half and finishing with 20 points. Miami desperately need him to start games a lot better.
Erik Spoelstra’s rotations were once again very erratic. Joel Anthony started the game, but only played 15 minutes, while Turiaf never saw any playing time. This forced Miami to go small for the majority of the game, which led to very limited presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.
There have been rumours that Chris Bosh might be available for Game 5, which instantly sparked debate whether he should play or not. Having been out for 9 consecutive playoff games, no one really knows how fit Bosh is, and if how fast he would be able to shake off the rust. Some believe that Spoelstra should sit Bosh and rest him this series as the team has played pretty well without him. Even so, with the series tied at 2 a piece, the margin off error has become very slim. After getting this far, Miami cannot afford any missteps, and the sooner Bosh is back on the floor, the better.
Despite the two losses, Miami were right there in game 4. It was an extremely even game all across the board, and the Celtics have been forced to exert a lot of energy, especially in the last 3 games. Being back home, Miami will have to come out strong from the get-go, in what is pretty much a must-win game, with or without Chris Bosh.