Blog Entry

Game Changer: Is there any hope for the Heat?

Posted on: February 13, 2011 11:43 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 12:32 am
 
The Miami Heat lose to the Boston Celtics for the third straight time this season, Rajon Rondo d's up on LeBron James, Blake Griffin throws down another alley oop, LaMarcus Aldridge sets a franchise record, the Birdman does some hanging out on the rim, and plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: IS THERE HOPE FOR THE MIAMI HEAT?

Earlier Sunday, I took a look at how the Celtics' 85-82 victory over the Heat had a familiar feel to it, the game playing out as a "same old story" remix of Boston's first two victories against Miami the season. 

As much as we all might hope, the Heat aren't going to just fold up shop and cancel the rest of the season because the Celtics continue to stand in their way as a seemingly insurmountable opponent. Instead, Miami will work the spin cycle, focusing on Sunday's positive developments as they head into the All-Star break with the second best record in the East.

Despite their nationally-televised, much-hyped loss on Sunday, there were at least three positive takeaways for the Heat. 

First, Chris Bosh got the best of his match-up with Kevin Garnett - both from a scoring and rebounding perspective - a critical component if Miami ever hopes to top Boston. Simply put, each of Miami's Big 3 must play better than their counterpart to overcome Rajon Rondo and the chemistry advantage that Boston possesses because they've played together for so long. Bosh's 24 and 10 to Garnett's 19 and seven earned a respectful backslap from KG as the players left the court. Bosh has rightfully drawn criticism this season for his softness and inability to exert his influence on games this season, but neither of those flaws was an issue tonight, as Bosh stuck a big jumper down the stretch and never flinched from the moment.

Second, the Heat can be proud that they out-rebounded the Celtics while shooting virtually the same percentage from the field. There's a mental hurdle in going against a team with as many big, physical players as Boston, and Miami overcame that nicely, getting big boarding nights from forwards LeBron James (seven rebounds) and Mike Miller (nine rebounds). On the other side, Boston's frontcourt players combined for just five offensive rebounds. Given the makeshift nature of Miami's frontline, these numbers will serve as nice ammunition for the Heat coaching staff if and when a playoff match-up needs to be discussed in the locker room. "Look, guys, you've rebounded with them before, you can do it again." At the very least, we learned on Sunday that the perception of Boston's dominance inside is more pronounced than its actually dominance. (At least as long as Shaquille O'Neal remains out.)

Finally, the Heat can take solace in the fact that Dwyane Wade had a real stinker, scoring just 16 points on 17 shots and committing six turnovers. While Paul Pierce's historically awful shooting night drew most of the headlines, an average night from Wade would have certainly meant a Miami road win. If Wade shows up, things look a lot different. Miami likely would have taken home its  ninth straight victory and would be sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings. Over the course of a seven-game series, even against Boston, Wade isn't likely to repeat a performance like that more than once. 

Even given all of that, though, you would still much rather be the Celtics waking up on Monday morning rather than the Heat. All the confidence and mental advantages are yours. All the questions and needs for adjustments are Miami's.   

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Rajon Rondo: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists on five of 10 shooting in 43 minutes in a Boston Celtics home win over the Miami Heat.

Dwight Howard:  31 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, 13 of 16 shooting in 39 minutes in an Orlando Magic home win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

LaMarcus Aldridge:  36 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block on 12 of 17 shooting in 41 minutes in a Portland Trail Blazers road win over the Detroit Pistons.

Steve Nash:  22 points, 18 assists and two rebounds on eight of 17 shooting in 37 minutes in a Phoenix Suns home loss to the Sacramento Kings.

DON'T MISS:

SNAPSHOT:

The Boston Celtics needed to turn things up in the second half against the Miami Heat, and point guard Rajon Rondo led the charge, harrassing Heat forward LeBron James all over the court. Incredible snapshot of two All-Stars sizing each other up. 

lebron-james-rajon-rondo

Western Conference Playoff Chase

Don't look now, but the Western Conference standings are getting pretty insane. Just five games separate the New Orleans Hornets, the fifth seed, and the Phoenix Suns, the 10th seed. To make things even more intriguing, the two biggest wildcards - the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz - are tied for the sixth seed, with their division rivals, the Portland Trail Blazers just a half-game behind. The Nuggets are still in no-man's-land with Carmelo Anthony, the Jazz are dealing with their first coaching change since the Reagan Administration, and the Blazers are, improbably, on a four-game winning streak and expecting to get center Marcus Camby and guard Brandon Roy back within the next few weeks. In other words, we've officially reached the "everyone checks the standings first thing in the morning" stage of the season, and the All-Star break isn't until next weekend.

The real question: Does this flattening affect anyone's strategy in advance of the trade deadline? 

It seems to me like more teams than ever rightly feel like they have legit playoff hopes. If that's true, it's reasonable to expect that the sellers will dry up a bit as the teams in the Western Conference's vast second tier would be more inclined not to make a rotation-changing deal, preferring instead to hold down the fort as is. 

Additionally, this group is a clear cut below the West's top four, which could also mean that they won't be inclined to make a bold "win now" type move either. Melo obviously remains the biggest wild card, but, at this point, I'm leaning towards this being a relatively quiet trade season out West. The fringe teams would seem to have more motivation to stick with the status quo rather than going for it or blowing it up.  

HIGHLIGHT REEL:

This is just a Blake Griffin dunk every single day, you know how I do it. Here Griffin catches the alley oop lob pass from Baron Davis and throws it down two-handed in transition against the Raptors in Toronto. Jiminy.


WHIMSY:

Colorful Denver Nuggets big man Chris Andersen scowls at the rim during a dunk attempt.

birdman-dunk

FINAL THOUGHT:

The Portland Trail Blazers announced on Sunday that power forward LaMarcus Aldridge became the first player in franchise history to score 36 or more points in three consecutive games after he scored 36 to lead the Blazers past the Pistons in Detroit. Given that Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton, Brandon Roy, Rasheed Wallace, Zach Randolph and others all donned the red and black, that's an amazing accomplishment. 
Comments

Since: Jul 5, 2007
Posted on: February 14, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Game Changer: Is there any hope for the Heat?

Interesting take on the "positives" the Heat can take away from yesterday's game.  I disagree.  In fact, the Celtics have FAR more positives to take away from this win than Miami - other than the obvious victory.  You start by saying that Bosh "got the best of his matchup" with KG.  Really?  While I agree that Bosh played a very nice game, he outscored KG by 5, outrebounded him by 3 -- but he also played 6 more minutes.  Throw in KG's outstanding help defense on the night and -- well -- would we really say Bosh "got the best" of KG?  Pretty much a wash all things considered.  

Then you mention the Heat outrebounding Boston (41-40 -- huge edge there) in spite of all of Boston's bigs (Shaq, JO & Semih all out - all around 7') and the "makeshift" frontline the Heat had to use.  Makeshift??  In addition to all three backup fives being out for Boston, throw in Marquis Daniels (3 positions) and Delonte West (2 positions) and tell me again who is using makeshift lineups.  Watch a Celtics game from time to time.  You won't see Von Wafer playing the three under normal circumstances.  Or for that matter playing much at all.  (Aha - another positive for the Cs to take away -- Von had 10 off the bench and is gaining more confidence by the day.) 


"Finally, the Heat can take solace in the fact that had a real stinker, scoring just 16 points on 17 shots and committing six turnovers. While 's  drew most of the headlines, an average night from Wade would have certainly meant a Miami road win. If Wade shows up, things look a lot different. Miami likely would have taken home its  ninth straight victory and would be sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings. Over the course of a seven-game series, even against Boston, Wade isn't likely to repeat a performance like that more than once."

This entire last paragraph was laughable.  You say in one breath that if Wade had an average night the Heat would have won but you FAIL to acknowledge that along those same lines if Pierce had an average night it could have been a blowout!  Nor that over the course of a seven game series Pierce isn't likely to repeat a performance like that either. 

I'm not a Heat fan (obviously) but if I were and they could not beat the Celtics ON THEIR THIRD TRY with the Cs having five key guys in their rotation out AND their captain and leading scoring going 0-10 with 1 point, I think I'd be hard-pressed to find any positives in that.  You are flat out awful. 



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com