Resilient. I’ve been throwing that term around a lot recently. Toronto. Denver. Miami. I’m gonna have to get a thesaurus though, because (aside from Toronto) their resiliency is not going anywhere. Miami struck again today, coming back from 17 down to get the 6 point win against Boston. Miami now lead 2-0 in this series and I find myself desperately hoping we have a Denver/Miami finals. A guy can dream. Let’s look at tonight’s thriller.
Right from the very first quarter, it felt like Boston had every advantage. Kemba was switching onto Bam a lot and seemingly scoring at will. Adebayo couldn’t get himself going. Jimmy was M.I.A. Boston shot 12-18 in the first quarter and the Heat could not buy a bucket. Two things kept them in it. The first was Duncan Robinson. He hit 4 triples in the first quarter, on 5 attempts. The other was Boston turning the ball over. They had 6 turnovers in the first, compared to just one by Miami. Boston shot almost 70% in the first quarter and Miami was struggling to score, but found themselves trailing by just 3.
In the second, things went from bad to worse for Miami. They looked lost on defense and scored the ball even worse than they did in the first quarter. Kemba stayed hot, but the real story was Enes Kanter. He exploded in the second. Maybe that’s an oversell, but he gave Boston some very good minutes. Boston lead by 13 at half time.
A few minutes into the second half and it felt like it was all over. Theis was dominating Bam defensively and covering everyone else very well. It just seemed like Boston had it all figured out. The Miami turned up. They locked in on defense and they finally figured it out on offense, more specifically, Bam did. Or Erik Spoelstra did. They started going to the pick and roll on offense. Every time, Bam would roll and get an open layup or dunk. Theis would double the ball handler and no one would come across to help. Bam got it rolling in the third quarter and the Heat outscored the Celtics by 20 in the period.
Both teams struggled to score in the fourth, but Boston struggled more. They missed 11 straight shots at one stage. They seemed to really struggle to score against Miami when they played zone defense. On top of that, Boston continued to turn the ball over. When it was crunch time, Dragic and the Heat were the team to show up and close out the game. Boston must be kicking themselves to blow a double digit lead again.
Boston had some strong individual performances. Kemba had 23 points and 7 rebounds, but he also had 5 turnovers. Tatum and Brown had 21 each, but combined for 6 turnovers (5 of them belonged to Tatum). Smart had 14, but 4 turnovers. Are you sensing a common theme here? When majority of your lead guys are turning the ball over almost as often as they are scoring field goals, that’s a big problem. Not as big of a problem as being unable to play with a lead. The Celtics have some figuring out to do.
I said in my series preview that Miami’s best strength would be their depth. On any given night, any one of them can be the go to guy. Or all of the could be. Tonight was one of those nights. Miami had 6 guys score in double figures. Butler struggled offensively, shooting 36% for 14 points. As always though, Jimmy made his impact in other ways. He finished the night with 4 steals and countless deflections, especially late. Bam had a double/double, 21 points and 10 rebounds. Like I mentioned, once he got rolling (literally and figuratively) in the pick and roll, he was unstoppable. Dragic scored 25 and was the definition of clutch. Herro struggled to score but nearly double/doubled. This team just always finds a way.
There are just a couple of other team stats I want to talk about before I close. Boston shot 50% tonight, compared to 44% for Miami. Boston even shot the three pointer at a better percentage. So how did Boston lose? *cough* turnovers. Not just turnovers though, second chance points in general. Miami had 90 shot attempts tonight, compared to just 72 for Boston. Boston had 20 turnovers, compared to 9 by Miami. Miami had 11 offensive rebounds, compared to just 6 by Boston. This also leads into the turnover category, but Miami had 11 steals and it was just 5 for Boston. You cannot win games when you are turning the ball over that much.
At the end of the night it came down to two key factors. I’m going to say it again, because it’s important. Boston had way too many turnovers! The second is, when push came to shove, Miami knew how to play clutch basketball. Boston had the opportunity to put the game away on a couple of occasions, but they failed to do so, yet again. If you leave the door open for the Heat, they will make you pay for it. Man, this Miami team sure are resilient.