They say the truth shall set you free. For HEAT fans, the Truth delivered the harshest message in two years with one shot in the final period.
On LeBron, the Truth met the King and the truth prevailed, icing a 94-90 win on a go-ahead 3 pointer in the closing minutes, giving the Celtics an opportunity to close out the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston Thursday night. The Truth referencing Mr. Paul Pierce, who managed to do what nobody in the sports world thought would be possible in a game 5 in Miami. Hit a well-defended 3 pointer to close the game to gain a 3-2 series lead.
Unlikely, unfathomable, unkind, unacceptable, but more than anything-understood. Understood that the HEAT gave away a critical closing chance at home. And understood, that they will need to play their best game yet of the playoffs Thursday night in Boston or else it’s going to be a long summer.
As crazy as the finish was, it showed many signs early that it would be a win for the home team. The game began with promise as Chris Bosh officially released from day-to-day to “today”, who played quality minutes off the bench in his return to the court, scoring 9 points and 7 boards with a limited 14 minutes. A step behind at times but managed to play in a few key rotations, getting open looks and converting all of his free-throws.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored 30 and 27 respectively, James having a somewhat-typical night as of late, including a clutch 3 pointer with 8 minutes left to bring the HEAT back within 2 after trailing in the 4th quarter. At the end of the night, it was not enough from LeBron and Wade, as they remained the only two players for the HEAT scoring more than 9 points. As the dust settled, alternating-zone defense by the C’s and lights-out basketball from Kevin Garnett rendered Miami useless and in most cases irrelevant over 48 minutes, with the bench scoring only 15 points all night.
Again, it was the lackluster bench performance that was the HEAT’s undoing, which is what makes the result altogether more puzzling. How does a team with 3 perennial all-stars, and at least two Hall-of-Famers leave it to the bench to blow a game? How is that even possible? Credit to C’s defense, but they played a strategy that most would think was nuts and others plain-suicide. Let LeBron and Wade do what they want, just shut down the bench offensively. They did it all night successfully in the zone, and understood that the HEAT aspire above all things to play team-ball. They will get the open man, and will live with that man missing as long as it’s the best shot on the floor. For awhile HEAT basketball looked to prevail, but unfortunately team-ball was played probably about 5 minutes too long and the HEAT never saw the end result coming. The Celtics capitalized on the HEAT’s benevolence to ride out a rocky 4th quarter and get the win.
For HEAT fans today, theres’ few words to really describe the feelings after game 5 starting with the guy writing this blog right now. Helpless is one word, in the fact they can’t check me in as an enforcer. I’d gladly get tossed on an accidental elbow to Garnett if I thought it could help (then again, I’d do it in the offseason too-what a jerk he is). But, unfortunately I cannot make it happen, no matter how much I Tweet, yell at the TV or high-five the fan beside me at the game. All I can do is process the end result and move on, and on some occasions write about it using the rear-view mirror to my advantage.
Examining hindsight, there is a shred of confidence for myself and HEAT Nation knowing that Miami has yet to play their true statement game this series. Why it hasn’t been dialed up as of yet and it’s down to a do-or-die game 6 is anyone’s guess. Could be over coaching and strategizing. Too many x’s and o’s, too many different rotations, too many schemes and just not enough basketball in it’s purest form. Could be Bosh’s absence and readjustments to the rotation and his other big-2 counterparts. Could be the officiating. Could be the overwhelming self and media pressure which has enveloped the team over two years. The reasons are meaningless excuses at the end, the truth being execution and scoreboard. The rest is just headlines, and the decision is Miami’s alone to be a headline or the truth come Thursday night.