Watching the Heat beat the Celtics
Some observations from Monday night’s Celtics-Heat game:
* I didn’t expect the Celtics to win, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had. I think they’re capable of beating the Heat on a good night when everybody’s firing on all cylinders. But I don’t think they can beat the Heat in a playoff series. In fact, I don’t think anyone can beat the Heat in a playoff series. Maybe the Thunder, but even that seems increasingly unlikely.
The Heat have now won 23 games in a row, and if they were to win the rest of their regular season games, I wouldn’t be surprised. As long as they have LeBron, they are capable of doing just about anything.
* Speaking of LeBron, I no longer hate him, although hate is a strong word. Really, I just hated the Miami Heat, and the idea of a LeBron-Dwayne Wade-Chris Bosh superteam. In general, I’m not inclined to hate a guy just because he decided to leave Cleveland for a warmer, sunnier place — as my friend Ed, an Akron native, pointed out, plenty of people, including himself, have left Ohio for better opportunities. Anyway, I consider LeBron and the Heat too amazing to hate.
I was sad the Celtics didn’t beat them, especially since they led for most of the game, but pretty unsurprised by the fact that the Heat managed to pull away in the final minutes and win by two. At this point, I’m not ever sure LeBron is a human being — I think he was secretly built in a lab by scientists who were trying to design the perfect basketball player. He’s too good to hate. Also, he seems to have gained a small measure of self-awareness after being raked over the coals by angry NBA fans.
* Celtics fans were booing Ray Allen, who spurned the Celtics and signed with the Heat in the off-season. I don’t have the heart to boo Ray Allen, or even be too critical of his actions, because he’s a great player who’s a lot of fun to watch. Also, I’m generally not inclined to harbor ill feelings toward athletes who played key roles on championship winning teams from the Boston area, which is why I remain a fan of Johnny Damon.
I will say that I think Ray’s anger at being asked to come off the bench last year was pretty childish, especially since the Celtics were a much better team when he did so. And he seems fine coming off the bench for Miami. And I think we all agree that Avery Bradley is a vital part of the Celtics offense, and that the Celtics need him to start and play a lot of minutes. Defensively, Avery Bradley is in a whole other league than Ray Allen is at this point in his career.
*Finally, Jeff Green. My dad and I have had a running debate about Jeff Green: My father has long maintained that he has the potential to be very good, and I’ve long maintained that he is not a very good basketball player.
Well, since Rajon Rondo’s season ended with a torn ACL, Green has been a whole different player, and on Monday he looked like one of the best players in the league, scoring 43 points, grabbing seven rebounds and making four blocks. For a Jeff Green doubter such as myself, it was pretty astonishing. I don’t expect 43 points out of him every night, but I think he can be a key contributor, both offensively and defensively, especially if he continues to play with the confidence and assertiveness he showed on Monday.
Also, it’s probably worth noting that the guy missed all of last season due to open heart surgery for an enlarged root aortic valve. During the game, Green hit so many shots that I emailed my father to say, “Who needs Ray Allen when they have Jeff Green?” Of course, the Heat have LeBron, which makes all the difference in the world.
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