The Miami Heat commanded headlines during the off-season when they combined newcomers LeBron James and Chris Bosh with Dwyane Wade to form the NBA’s version of Lethal Weapon 3.
But the all-star trio won’t amount to much if they keep getting shot down by the battle-tested Boston Celtics.
Sunday’s 85–82 victory was the Celtics’ third in three games against the Heat this season. Give the Celtics their props. The defending Eastern Conference champions have managed to contain James and Bosh while making the usually dynamic Wade look ordinary.
The numbers don’t lie: Wade has averaged 25 points a game this season, but only 12 points a game against Boston. Wade makes 50 percent of his shots from the field against the league, but only 27 percent of his shots against the Celtics.
The Celtics are the only NBA team with four all-stars in the starting lineup: forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and guards Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Rondo had a triple-double on Sunday (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). He was the best player on the court in the third quarter, when the Celtics took the lead for good. Neither Mario Chalmers nor Carlos Arroyo has been able to handle him. If the Heat don’t get an upgrade at point guard, he will break their hearts in a playoff series.
Furthermore, if the Celtics and Heat finish tied in the East, the Celtics would have the home-court advantage in a playoff series. The Heat’s last chance to avoid the humiliation of a season sweep by the Celtics is the April 10 matchup in Miami. It would be nice for the Heat if the real Dwyane Wade showed up for that game.
Cecil Harris is the author of three books, including Charging the Net: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters.
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