Preachers in lower socio-economic areas and US Presidents sell hope to their constituents, some of which is never fulfilled. Unfortunately for the Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers did not have another riveting speech to rally the troops behind his bully pulpit.
The Heat took down the Celtics 101-88, pulling away for good in the fourth quarter.
Erik Spoelstra said Rivers was his development gadfly.
“Boston now for two years has been the single team that has pushed us and bended us to where we’ve had to improve,” Spoelstra said. “They’ve forced us to redefine ourselves.”
“He’s pushed me to be a better coach. We do not take this for granted,” he said. “I’m happy we got through this, it builds some character.”
LeBron James concurred, further praising Rivers and his team.
“We want to give a lot of credit to the Celtics, they’ve got a hell of a coach in Doc Rivers and great players. They pushed us, as hard as any team has pushed us this far,” James said.
But honestly, as great as Rivers is, the final result was out of his control. Miami, with Chris Bosh, was the better team. With their third wheel healthy, Miami closes this series in 5 or 6. Bosh sure made a difference in last nights’ contest. He put in 19 points while spreading the floor by swishing threes.
LeBron James was phenomenal. He scored 30 points and controlled the boards with 13 rebounds. But that was expected. James has spoiled his team and fans during the Eastern Conference Finals. James only scored less than 30 points once in this series. His dominant 45 in game 6 ensured that a deciding game would occur.
James had 30 points points or more every game except one where there was a huge drop off. He scored 29 in Game 5. That’s impressive.
Dwyane Wade showed up when he needed to. He hit a big shot that pushed the lead to double digits and generally shined in the fourth quarter.
The Big Three played like the Big Three is supposed to play.
The game was tied entering the fourth quarter, where James, Wade and Bosh combined to score all 28 of Miami’s points.
For the Miami Heat, we all know what lies ahead. It’s an NBA Finals showdown with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Many enticing individual match-ups lie ahead. A battle for NBA lore lies ahead. And part of the framing of James’s legacy is at stake.
A win and James goes a long way towards cooling the criticism. A loss and the “can’t get it done, he’s not clutch” narrative continues. Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith continue debating his mental make up every morning.
But for Boston, the future is a lot less certain.
Their collective age has many saying that it is time to rebuild.
Kevin Garnett, though he played admirably this season, is 36. Paul Pierce will be 34, or his jersey number next season. Ray Allen is also 36.
At their peak, Boston’s big three balanced themselves out perfectly. There was an outside shooter, a post presence and a wing player who operated 18 feet from the basket.
Couple that with a great coach who knows how to get everyone involved and a championship was sure to follow. And it did.
I hate operating in the hypothetical but if Garnett does not hurt his knee in the 08 season, does Dwight Howard have an NBA Finals appearance under his belt? That was a seven game series without Garnett.
Does Orlando win a seventh game in Boston if Garnett plays? Does the series even make it to seven games?
Given what happened the previous year in the finals, the Celts would have been the favorites against the Lakers. Who knows what would have happened?
But today, The Three Amigos are in a slightly different position. It seems as if Allen and Garnett trade injuries. Pierce is slowing down noticeably and they are becoming more dependent on Rondo.
Danny Ainge has to make a decision on Garnett and Allen quickly. They both become free agents on July 1.
The Celts should begin building around Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Pierce is still a solid player at this point in his career and still has a few years left on his deal. With Jeff Green’s versatility he should be a part of their core for years to come.
Both Green and Bradley were injured and did not compete in this series.
Green, Bradley and Rondo aren’t as good as Pierce, Garnett and Allen at the end of their prime, but it is pretty damn good. If you supplement them with talented role players, you have a competitive team.