When it became official the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals would be between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, many, including myself, thought the Heat could roll over the Celtics because of their two superstars — LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
With the series at 3-2 and in the palms of the Celtics’ hands, it is obvious Miami is not going to beat the boys from “Beantown” if they don’t get help from the role players and the bench. I don’t mean defensive help on the weak side or an extra pair of hands vying for rebounds. I mean, offensively.
James has scored 30 plus points in every game besides Game 4. However, he still dropped 29 points to lead Miami. For the series, Wade maxed out at 27 points in the 94-90 loss in Game 5 and hit bottom with 18 during Game 3’s 101-91 loss. Miami can’t be mad when they’re top two guys are averaging 31.8 points per game and 22.
This obviously means the problem is with everyone else. Chris Bosh is exempt from this conversation because he has been out with an abdominal strain. Bosh made his ECF series debut in Game 5 with 14 minutes of playing time, in which, he scored nine points to tie for third highest in points scored for the night with Mario Chalmers.
Yes, he is still injured. Yes, the series would look different if he was healthy. Yes, this conversation will be touched in another post because this isn’t the time or the place.
If the box scores are looked at, one can see a difference between Miami losses and Miami wins. I’m only looking at the guys who matter: Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier. These four are the best of the best on the Heat roster after James, Wade and Bosh. I would love to hear if anyone differs.
In game 1 (Heat won 93-79), this quadruplet scored 27 points without Haslem adding a single point. Still, their production was too much for the Celtics to compete with.
Chalmers exploded in Game 2 with 22 points and Haslem also hit double digits with 13. Battier scored nine and Miller added seven to give the group 57 points to aid the team in a 115-111 win. Without their lift, this is easily Boston’s game and the series is tied. Instead, the 57 points pushed Miami ahead. James and Wade scored three combined points more in Game two than one.
Game 3 saw the role players add 28, but the team lost. They scored one more point than in Game 1, but they couldn’t make up for Wade’s cold 18-point performance. I know most are blaming Wade for his poor production, not the other guys, but I see it differently. If a superstar is having a bad night, it’s expected for someone else to step up. The Heat’s roster seems to back down. Battier didn’t hit a single shot and Haslem only got two looks after dropping 13 points the night before. I’m scratching my head.
I’m throwing Game 4 aside. It was decided in an overtime that only seen six points between both times. Plus, Wade had an open shot to win the game at the buzzer but the ball rolled out of the rim. I don’t think the loss was anybodies fault. These four contributed 32 points: Haslem 12, Chalmers 12, Battier 6, Miller 2.
Here is the biggest piece of evidence for my argument.
Wade and James scored 57 points combined in Game 5, while Miller, Battier, Chalmers and Haslem only added 20. Like I said earlier, Bosh wasn’t 100% healthy and added just as much offense as any of these guys as he tied Chalmers with 9. Battier had 5, Miller 3, Haslem 3 and the Boston fans laughed at James and Wade even though they were the only reason Miami was in the game.
Twenty points between four players, three of whom are starters (Haslem, Chalmers, Battier) and one who can rain in threes from anywhere whether his legs are broken down or not (Miller)? This sounds like insanity to me.
It’s plan to me that the Heat need these guys and whoever else wants to step up off the bench to do exactly that, step up. This isn’t the time or the place to run around not looking to get the ball and help. The term “alligator arms” should be left for the Los Angeles Clippers, the Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers. These teams are young, for the most part, and don’t have the opportunity the Heat do
James and Wade will win games for you, but they need help to get there. It’s not hard to run Miami’s game plan: run to the corner, wait for James or Wade to draw a double team and hit an open shot. At this point in the post season, James and Wades’ shoulders have to be awfully heavy from carrying around this many guys. Chalmers and Haslem have put together solid games, but everyone needs to contribute in all four quarters to beat a grueling, physical, sniper-shooting such as the Celtics.
Especially since Miami has to win two straight to avoid elimination.
If Battier, Miller, Haslem and Chalmers rely on James and Wade to do everything, the flames are not going to surround the basket but the entire front office as they decide how to make this work.