Posted by Matt Moore
The biggest series of the playoffs is over, and the juggernaut created by "The Decision" in free agency 2010 downed the UBUNTU machine. Grades seem like they don't do this series justice, but we've got to get some perspective.
LeBron James: If the 2007 series against the Detroit Pistons was when LeBron James truly announced to the world that he had arrived, the 2011 series against the Celtics may have been the one where he showed how much he's learned. It wasn't the mos impressive series from a statistical standpoint, but the way James closed, especially Game 5, makes it feel like it. James didn't hog the ball, didn't go ISO too much, hit big shots, worked with his teammates, and became the emotional leader the Heat needed him to be. He had a rough Game 3, but responded to close out the Celtis. And, oh, yeah, this time no one will say he quit in a Game 5.
Dwyane Wade: Wade struggled in the playoffs last year, and especially this regular season versus the Celtics. They were a plague on the game of his house. But in this series, Wade wiped it all away. Never scoring fewer than 23 points, Wade was a beast. He dominated Game 1 and Game 5. His Game 5 was particularly brilliant. For three quarters, LeBron James couldn't get his scoring on track. Wade kept the Heat in it with timely play and amazing score after amazing score. He blocked Kevin Garnett. He made a wild reverse over his head for the and-one. He did everything you need your franchise player to do and eventually contained Ray Allen. LeBron James may have won the game for the Heat, but Dwyane Wade put him in a position to do so.
Chris Bosh: Is this the series where Chris Bosh starts to make himself into a known player? Before the series, I was dangerously close to writing a post called Shark Bait: Chris Bosh and detailing all the ways Kevin Garnett would destroy him. After a surprisingly strong Game 4, Garnett came out swinging in Game 5. Bosh looked overrun, again. Bosh finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, one point less than Garnett and tied in boards. He made huge plays, kept the ball alive, and hit a few open looks. It wasn't a great series from Bosh, but he definitively wasn't the weakpoint. He was good enough to get the Heat a win.
Heat supporting cast: This series proved that you really can beat the Celtics with three guys. Mario Chalmers didn't play consistently enough to get time, Mike Bibby continued his disappointing play, Mike Miller still couldn't hit a barn door with a shotgun, Joel Anthony had a few nice moments but also dropped passes and failed to capitalize on opportunities, James Jones had a hot start but then faded back into the background (though his 3-pointer in Game 5 was huge). There's a million ways we could call into question if the Heat can win with getting such little support from the rest of their players... but they just beat the Celtics.
Grade: C (passing only in that they did not prevent the Heat from winning)
|Heat defeat Celtics 4-1|
Miami fans: In the name of all that chants "D-Fence," are you going to show up at any point, South Beach? You're embarrassing us as sports fans at this point. Go to the game, already!
Rajon Rondo: Rondo played through the dislocated arm. Rondo wasn't playing terrific prior to that. Rondo made huge plays with that busted wing. Rondo was also such a defensive liability that he had to be benched at the end of games due to the injury. Rondo's no-show in the first two games helped put Boston in an inescapable hole. Rondo's effort in Games 3, 4, and 5 was good enough that if healthy, you could have seen the Celtics taking the series lead, let alone avoiding a gentleman's sweep. We'll never know what Rondo would have been like if he hadn't been injured. But based on what we saw, we got all sides of Rondo, the good and the bad.
Kevin Garnett: Garnett was owned in three and a half games of this series. He had a brilliant Game 3, but never really established himself against Bosh as he should have. He came out gangbusters in Game 5, determined to make his mark. Then he completely vanished after the first quarter. Garnett had to take over in order to keep his legacy as an impact player alive. He didn't. And now he's headed home, with people struggling to understand how Chris Bosh outplayed the great Kevin Garnett. He probably yelled a lot, too.
Paul Pierce: If any player showed his age in this series, it was Pierce. Pierce continually tried to put the team on his back, and continually found himself being outdueled by James. He put the effort in, but the ability just wasn't there. Turnovers were a huge problem. He scored under 20 points three times in the series. The Celtics needed a hero. They got the Half-Truth.
Ray Allen: Allen clearly had significant problems with communicating with Rondo in the second half of this season, and the problems only increased in this series. Allen would go long stretches getting no shots, then heat up, then disappear. Allen finally warmed up in Game 5. He was the one Celtic to really go down swinging, but Dwyane Wade's defense was just too much for him.
Glen Davis: Glen Davis was a sixth man of the year candidate for much of the season. He was an outright disaster versus the Heat. He rarely drew charges, bobbled passes, too often settled for his jumper, failed to commit defensively, and didn't finish at the rim. All the Celtics lost on this series. Bug given Davis' free agency status, he may have lost more.
Jeff Green: Hey, nine points and three rebounds in 23 minutes! That's pretty good! ... Okay, yeah, Green had two huge turnovers at the end of the game and was a huge reason the Celtics fell apart down the stretch. Green is destined to be ruined by the scrutiny of the Kendrick Perkins trade. Which is a shame, because he shouldn't have been asked to take on the responsibility of being the next great Celtics this early, at midseason. But them's the breaks. And it broke bad for Jeff Green.
Celtics supporting cast: The Celtics' supporting cast wasn't terrible. It really wasn't. It played fine. But no one stepped up enough to make an impact except Delonte West, who inevitably tried to to do too much eventually.
Doc Rivers: You can't coach your players younger. Rivers made smart adjustments, tried different players, different rotations, the works. Rivers did his job. There just wasn't any way to coach this team up to where it needed to be.
Danny Ainge: Sorry, Danny. Trading Perkins may have been right for the future financials of the Celtics. Green's future may be bright. But you traded Perkins, the heart and soul of the Celtics, and though he may not have helped at all versus the Heat, we'll never know. That's how history is judged, unfortunately.