Insider: Miami Heat ECF Game 5 Notebook
Where Did it All Go Wrong?
When looking at the numbers from the Miami Heat’s 94-90 Game 5 defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics, it is hard to see how a loss came their way. Miami was plus ten on the boards and outside of Kevin Garnett, Boston’s stars struggled.
Specifically, point guard Rajon Rondo was 3-15 from the field and turned the ball over five times. While the Heat certainly had their offensive woes, the Celtics just crept above 40 percent shooting for the game.
“We’re just hanging in there,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “(Miami) jumped on us at the beginning of the game and we just told our guys, just hang in there. Don’t overreact. The longer we’re in the game, the better we’ll play.”
Leading all the way through, things really started to stall for Miami late in the third quarter. By the end of the period and following at 15-1 run, Boston held a five-point advantage heading into the fourth.
Most Heat players concluded after that lapse in the third was where the game really got out of hand.
“We could not get anything to go offensively,” said LeBron James. “They picked it up. They made some big shots to end the quarter. They finished the quarter off the right way.”
The Bosh Impact
When Chris Bosh checked in for the Miami Heat at the 5:06 mark in the first quarter, it was anyone’s guess how impactful he would be. After all, the team and head coach Erik Spoelstra had kept his status close to the vest leading almost all the way up to the start of Game 5 on Tuesday.
At least early on, Bosh was extremely effective and scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in just over 14 minutes off the bench. The negative end of things was there were questions about his defense on Garnett and he was a minus 12 on the floor. However, his six offensive rebounds were a key element towards creating second chance points for the Heat.
“I thought he gave us good minutes,” said Spoelstra on Bosh. “I think that’s something we can build on. He felt good physically afterwards. I think his energy, everything, was good. I think he might be able to play a handful more minutes.”
Despite the solid start, playing time was lacking for Bosh in the second half. He saw 3:48 of game action, all coming in the third quarter.
Talk afterwards was about what Bosh might have been able to give Miami offensively down the stretch. However, Spoelstra says it would not have been “fair” to expect a bigger contribution from him in his first game back.
Bosh sang a bit of a different tune postgame, understanding his coach’s decision, but with the competitive juices back flowing, wishing he could have had a say in game’s most crucial minutes.
“I’m just a competitor,” said Bosh. “I was ready. If he felt it wasn’t fair, then that’s great. But I think we still had enough to win the game, no matter what happened. Hopefully next time in Game 6 when it comes to crunch time I’ll be out there with my guys.”
Where Do the Heat Go From Here?
Going forward down 3-2, Miami will have to beat the odds. The team that wins Game 5 in a best of seven series advances over 80 percent of the time.
Couple that with the fact that the Heat have lost 15 of their last 16 in Boston and one cannot feel too good about their chances at staving off elimination. However, at least publically, Miami remains as resolute as ever.
“Well, it’s probably like a boxer,” Spoelstra said of what approach his team needs. “You just got to go back to your corner right now. We all just have to huddle up and lean on each other. We’re the only people we can depend on now.”
Just minutes after Tuesday’s loss, the naysayers starting piling in again. Magic Johnson immediately debated the Heat’s chemistry, kicking off what will be a whirlwind of criticism until Game 6 Thursday night.
It is talk that Shane Battier finds cheap.
“The truest thing that you always have to remember in sports is the further you get away from the game, the easier the game is,” said Battier. “When I’m a talking head too some day, just remind me of that.
Regardless of what is said, in the next 48 hours, Miami will need to block out all of the negativity from the outside. It will be a test that will either make or break their season.
The Celtics have already proven that they can weather the storm, so the Heat must prove they can match their mettle.
“They have championship DNA,” said Spoelstra on Boston. “They have what we’re trying to get. There’s a great way to take a big step forward with a win on Thursday.”