Mind Effing The Heat
If Lebron James or Dwayne Wade try to claim at some point in the near future that the Boston Celtics are not in the heads of the Miami Heat, they are probably blatantly lying to us.
The Boston Celtics came into Sunday’s game banged-up and bruised. They were missing Marquis Daniels, Shaquille O’ Neal, Jermaine O’ Neal, Delonte West, and Semih Erden. In addition, the Celtics came into the game on a two game losing streak, losing to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday and a disappointing second half collapse against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. For a Miami Heat team that needed a signature win against their biggest rival in the Eastern Conference, and in a game in which the winner would take sole possession of first place in the conference, the stars seemed to be aligning for the Miami Heat to finally beat the Boston Celtics.
Instead, what traspired on Sunday was the Boston Celtics reminding the Miami Heat that they are still the best team in the Eastern Conference no matter what the circumstances are. Paul Pierce didn’t hit a single field goal all game. It didn’t matter because he still played great defense as usual against Lebron James and still had five rebounds and three assists. Rajon Rondo was forced to play 43 minutes in the game. That’s okay because Rajon Rondo had another fantastic national television performance putting up an 11/10/10 triple double and also playing terrific on-ball defense. The Celtics were missing their most important wing defender in Marquis Daniels. It worked out as Von Wafer stepped off the bench and despite a couple of silly turnovers in the third quarter, had 10 points and reminded everyone why a lot of people thought he was a steal in the off-season. Overall, almost everyone who played (coughNateRobinsoncough) contributed towards the 85-82 win today.
But the best part about the win is where it leaves the Miami Heat. The win today has given the Celtics the season series over the Miami Heat with one game to go. For the Miami Heat who came together to try and win the NBA Championship, they knew they had to go through the Boston Celtics to do it. This was easily their best chance of the season to beat the Boston Celtics and they failed to do it. It has to bother Dwayne Wade and company. Now when they play the Boston Celtics, they will constantly be thinking “Will we be able to beat these guys?” It’s a mental gap they have to try and get over. The Boston Celtics have a significant advantage over the Miami Heat in that category, especially if they meet in a playoff series.
This doesn’t mean the season has been a success for the Boston Celtics. Just because they are in first place today over the Miami Heat doesn’t mean that can’t change. The Celtics need to get healthy and keep playing well in order to get the first seed in the Eastern Conference. While wins like this are not and give the Celtics momentum, they are not the end all be all moments of the Boston Celtics season. They’re still about two months left in the season and I don’t care how bad the team looked going into the post-season last year and what they did. It’s always important to enter the post-season playing your best basketball of the season. When they are healthy, we will see what this team can do.