The Big Three in real Big Trouble
By Homer D. Sayson
07 Jun 2012
WHEN LeBron James arrived in Miami as a free agent in July 2010, he and his pals, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, held a pep rally to celebrate the birth of the so-called Big 3.
In that self-congratulatory orgy, Wade described himself and his cohorts as "arguably the best trio to ever play the game of basketball."
And James, apparently a false, predicted that they will win a cluster of NBA titles together. "Not one, not two, not four, not six, not seven," the reigning MVP said laughingly as a mesmerized throng of Heat fans roared in raucous approval.
Two years later, the number of championships that James bragged about remains stuck at zero. And there might not even be a return trip to the NBA Finals this year.
That's because the Boston Celtics, those blue-collar guys who'd rather let their play do the talking, have bullied the Miami Heat on the brink of playoffs elimination, leading the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Finals 3-2 following a gutsy 94-90 Game 5 victory Tuesday night at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
If you believe the experts, yours truly included, Boston had no business being in the East Finals against the mega-talented Heat.
Yes, the Celtics do have a Big Three. But their version is a group of 30-something superstars in the twilight of their careers -- Kevin Garnett, 36, Ray Allen, 36, and 34-year old Paul Pierce.
But Miami is too young. Too athletic. Too fast. Too quick. Too deep. Too good.
Darn it, these Celtics are proving us so, so wrong.
After five games, it's the Heat who appear to have no business in the presence of these great Celtics, the 2008 NBA champions.
In the crucible of these playoffs, with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line, the Heat look lost, especially in the clutch, where the Celtics have stolen close games and precious homecourt advantage with their knack for making the big plays.
GAME 5 was a microcosm of this East Finals. Down by 13 in the first half, nine late in the third period, and six with 6:03 left in the fourth quarter, the Celtics didn't panic. They weathered all storms, fought for every rebound, dove for loose balls, and sank the baskets that mattered.
And when they finally regained the lead after a seemingly interminable chase, the Celtics unleashed the killer instinct that the Heat clearly do not have.
Up 1, 87-86, with only 52.9 seconds left to play, the 6-foot-7 Pierce drilled a 3 in the face of the 6-foot-9 LeBron James' face. It proved to be the swish of death, and Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett promptly sealed Miami's doomed fate with four straight pressure-packed free throws.
A distinct difference in this series is that while Miami has the Big Three and no one else, the Celtics have a Big Three plus one --- Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is not exactly lighting the scoreboard on fire, but he did have a magnificent 44 points in Game 2 and a total of 103 points and 34 rebounds in five games thus far.
But it's in the assists department where Rondo is absolutely killing the Heat. He has piled up a total of 55 assists against Miami, running the Celtics offense with the leadership and direction of a decorated war general.
In contrast, Miami only has Mario Chalmers and Norris Coles at point, good players but so untested in rough playoffs waters
THE HEAT have no answer for Rondo.
And the Heat have no answer for Garnett, either. KG has been an absolute monster against Miami, scoring, defending, blocking shots and showing all and sundry that if you take care of your body and your craft, you can do magic at 36.
In fairness to LeBron, he is having a spectacular series, scoring almost 30 points and rebounding in the upper teens per game. Great stats, but not good enough to win the eight titles he promised. And definitely, not good enough to win the first one this June.
This is not an obituary of the Miami Heat. They sure have enough talent to win the next two games.
But the odds are long. In their last 16 visits in Boston, the Heat have only won a grand total of, take this, one.
It looks like the Heat season is over. And LeBron James' championship trophy case will remain empty. Filled with nothing but empty boasts and another season of shortcomings and unmet expectations. (Homer D. Sayson)
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