The South will rise again.
Well, it sort of has to or it’ll go back to Boston down 3-2 in a best-of-seven series.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been having trouble scoring against the Boston Celtics defense over the past two games. Aside from not getting the calls they were previously getting, the Celtics are simply putting a lot more emphasis on stopping James and Wade at the paint.
Also, Kevin Garnett has been able to roam around freely since he’s being left to guard either Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony or Ronny Turiaf. With that type of freedom, Garnett uses it to constantly double-team Wade and deter James from getting in the lane area. While he may be aged, Garnett still knows how to play the game right and better than anyone else on the floor in this series.
However, Garnett’s time of roaming freely may very well come to an end with the announcement of Chris Bosh being listed as day-to-day, which is a significant upgrade from the indefinite status he’s been at since he first hurt himself in Game 1 of the Semifinals.
It still has yet to be announced whether he’ll play in Game 5 as Erik Spoelstra recently said he would be a gametime decision.
Yet to be confirmed as a possible part of the rotation in this series, but just the idea of him knowing that he’s set to return in the next two games will certainly give Wade and James an opportunity to relax and catch their bearings. After so many games without Bosh, the weight of carrying this team appears to finally be causing a detrimental impact to the team.
The Heat lost their first two games without Bosh, but recovered to win its final three games against Indiana and its first two against Boston. However, Boston’s defense proved a huge factor in Games 3 and 4 with Garnett leading the way. Since he’s not guarding an impact player like Bosh, he’s allowed to stay home on pick-and-roll’s as well as double-teaming at the perimeter.
With Bosh on the floor, KG will have to take notice. Chris Bosh isn’t Ronny Turiaf, Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony; he’s an All-Star with arguably the best mid-range shot in the league. Not only that, but he can also drive the lane if played too closely. That means Garnett will have to defend Bosh and will have to exert energy of closely watching him.
The biggest problem this series has been the Heat’s inability to score when Garnett is in the lineup. It’s a trend from last series–the Heat were significantly better as a team whenever Roy Hibbert was out last series and they’re also a much better squad whenever Garnett isn’t on the floor.
That’s the perks of having a former Defensive Player of the Year recipient who doesn’t have to hone in on his assignment. He’s going to play effective team defense and he’s going to make the necessary adjustments to make sure that the Heat don’t score as easily as they did in Games 1 and 2.
Bosh will struggle. That should be expected, especially if he’s going to be guarded by Kevin Garnett. However, just his presence on the floor will attract a defender at all times. Boston knows that they can’t let him going early or else they’re going to make a decision on whether to defend his versatile offense or the drives of Wade and James.
It’s pick-your-poison with this team, which is why they’re as great as they are.
Without Bosh, this team has been struggling over the past two games. Wade and James could still possibly lead this team to the Finals, even after Games 3 and 4, but it wouldn’t give them much rest for the NBA Finals where they’ll either take on the deep San Antonio Spurs or the athletic Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Miami Heat squandered ample opportunities to head back home with a 3-1 lead, but made too many miscues, poor decisions and unacceptable execution down the stretch in a Game 4 they could have easily had, despite being down by as much as 18 points in the first half.
Miami still had a chance to win Game 4 at the buzzer in regulation, as well as having the chance to tie or win at the end of overtime. Instead of running an actual play, the Heat decided an off-balanced mid-range jumper by Udonis Haslem and a three-pointer by a 29 percent three-point shooter in Dwyane Wade was sufficient enough.
It’s not like the Heat haven’t been in a similar situation before. They faced a 2-1 deficit against Indiana last series and a 1-0 deficit in last year’s Conference Finals. The only other time the Heat were in a tied series at this juncture would be last year’s NBA Finals, a series that I have blocked out of my memory.
Now the Heat will look at Bosh as the savior. He’ll certainly be rusty, but take note that bringing back at this time is also a means to get him integrated into the offense once again.
The chances are that won’t take long. Dwyane and LeBron have probably been aching to achieve some assists on Bosh mid-range jumpers, instead of seeing assist opportunities fudged up by wide-open misses courtesy of Shane Battier.
My sincerest props go out to Mario Chalmers, who played an excellent role as temporary third option. He doesn’t get nearly enough as much credit as he has deserved over the past two series. He’s matured heavily, is making his open shots and attacking at will, which we hope doesn’t leave when Bosh gets back in the lineup.