Why the Miami Heat and Caleb Martin both need 'Code Red Caleb'

With a championship and future contract on the line, Caleb Martin must embrace the “Code Red Caleb" monicker.
Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat
Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Maybe the catalyst for Caleb Martin’s remarkable Game 2 performance in the Miami Heat's upset of the No. 1 seeded Celtics was the will to ensure he didn’t repeat his wretched Game 1 performance. 

Or maybe it was to mock the “Code Red'' conspiracy concocted by Boston media member Brian Scalabrine after Game 1. For context, Scalabrine claimed Martin’s hard foul on Celtics star Jayson Tatum with a minute remaining was to lead out a hit called by Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. There was zero evidence to back up Scalabrine.

Either way, now labeled as “Code Red Caleb,” Martin building off his electric Game 2 has massive stakes. He could lay the foundation for his next contract and be the answer to Miami becoming the first No. 8 seed to topple a No. 1 seed in back-to-back years. 

With Jimmy Butler down, the Heat need a role player to fill his void. There could be no better candidate than Martin who notched 19.3 points on a 48.9% clip from three in the Heat’s Eastern Conference finals win over Boston last year. By failing to do that, the Heat could fail to make up the 27 points Butler averaged in the last two postseasons.

Just look at the stark differences between the Game 1 loss and Game 2 win. 

In Miami’s Game 1 loss, Martin scored four points – lowest among all Heat starters – which factored into Miami facing a 31-point fourth quarter deficit. Furthermore, his 0-for-4 mark from three contributed to the Heat ending Game 1 with a paltry 94 total points. 

This won’t suffice against a Boston Celtics which just posted the highest offensive rating (122.2) of the 21st century. 

Game 2, however, showcased a different Martin. He scored 21 points, shot 5-for-6 from three and the Heat were 15 points better with him on the floor. No shot was more important than the three-pointer Martin hit at the three-minute mark to seal the victory. “These are the moments … you grow up trying to play in,” Martin replied when asked about muting a boo bird-filled TD Garden. The result was Miami winning 111-101

Though other players stepped up, a 21-point scoring Martin (hopefully more) could be Miami’s only route to a historic upset.

At least with last year’s win of the No. 1 seeded Bucks last year, Miami had the luxury of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo only playing two full games. 

This year, however, Miami has no such luck. All of Boston’s best players are healthy, meanwhile, Miami’s roster is saddled with injuries. On top of Butler’s knee injury, the high-scoring Terry Rozier (neck injury) has missed the first two games of the series with no return date in sight. 

Which is why 2024 could be the latest example of how excelling against Boston changes the narrative surrounding Martin’s career. 

In the 2022 Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics, Martin’s 7.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and a 46.7% clip from three played a pivotal role in him signing a three-year $20,408,850 contract that offseason. 

Not bad for someone who signed a two-way contract with the Heat in the previous September after being waived by a dismal Charlotte Hornets.  

Then, in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals bout with Boston, Martin’s 15 points and 25 points at TD Garden in Games 1 and 2, respectively, placed the Celtics in a 2-0 hole. Then, with the Heat facing the embarrassment of blowing a 3-0 lead, Martin uncorked 26 points in Game 7 at TD Garden once again. In doing so, Martin showed that Miami’s long-term investment could be a wise one. 

So, now, entering a contract season next year, Martin must build off Game 2, upset Boston and lay the foundation for a Miami championship.

But if that happens Martin will be forgotten. 

It’ll be all about “Code Red Caleb.”