Observations and other notes of interest from Thursday night’s 127-102 NBA playoff loss to the Boston Celtics:
– Yes, the Celtics hit 3-pointers as if they were layups.
– Yes, they excelled when getting out in transition.
– Yes, the offensive numbers were overwhelming in the first half, with 70 (70!) points at intermission.
– And yet this was about the other end.
– The defense that made the Celtics the NBA’s best team over the second half of the season.
– This is the code the Heat now must crack, the one that includes Marcus Smart and Al Horford.
– The one where Robert Williams and Grant Williams takes them to the next level.
– The one where it can’t simply be Jimmy Butler shooting free throws as the Heat’s offensive bailout.
– For months the Heat have worked their own defense.
– And that often has been good enough.
– As well as enough to spark the offense.
– But this, now, is where Tyler Herro has to take it to another level.
– Or Victor Oladipo.
– Or where the Heat’s 3-pointers have to flow like the Celtics’ did Thursday.
– The home winning streak is over.
– And now there must be a playoff road victory.
– Without the comfort of how they went into Atlanta or Philadelphia.
– Three rounds in, the challenge arguably begins now.
– With Kyle Lowry out again, Gabe Vincent again was in the Heat starting lineup.
– With the usual other four of Butler, Bam Adebayo, P.J. Tucker and Max Strus.
– With the start, Butler tied Moses Malone and Dennis Rodman for 80th on the NBA all-time playoff list, moving past Kenyon Martin.
– With the start, Butler also tied Goran Dragic for ninth on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Butler also tied Dan Majerle and Jamal Mashburn with the appearance for 18th on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– With Smart and Horford back for the Celtics, they opened alongside Jayton Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams.
– Smart, recently named 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, opened defensively against Butler.
– Making this nothing like Game 1 for Butler.
– Tyler Herro and Dewayne Dedmon entered as the Heat’s first two reserves.
– With the appearance, Herro tied Chris Andersen for 17th on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Victor Oladipo followed.
– And then Caleb Martin for nine deep.
– It later reached the point of Duncan Robinson.
– Vincent’s second assist moved him past Shane Battier for 24th on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Butler hit several milestones, including passing on the NBA all-time playoff scoring list Sidney Moncrief, Terry Porter, Rick Barry and Joe Johnson, while also passing Mario Chalmers for fifth on the Heat all-time playoff scoring list.
– Butler’s sixth conversion from the field moved him past Dick Barnett for 99th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked pregame about being proactive or reactive with his coaching adjustments.
– “I don’t know,” he said. “It really, like it’s so broad. It depends on the game. It depends on who you ask. I know, it usually comes down to, you know, ball in the air, ball on the floor, who is winning those big-muscle areas.”
– There was not a lot of proactive or reactive in this one.
– When the Heat defeated the Celtics in the 2020 East finals, it was with a heavy dose of zone. Spoelstra was asked about the possibility this time around.
– “It depends,” he said. “You know, that team we had two years ago is totally different. So even [don’t] think you could compare it. It just depends what’s called for in the game.”
– Spoelstra again was asked Thursday about Adebayo’s defensive versatility.
– “We have so many guys that are committed defensively, but you know, for us to be the best version of our defense, it’s in large part because of Bam and his toughness, his versatility, his size, his quickness, his ability to defend in any scheme,” Spoelstra said. “We feel like the last two or three years he could be in the conversations for Defensive Player of the Year because of that. And this year, our team defense backed that up as well. Yeah, so he’s vital to what we do.”
– Celtics coach Ime Udoka acknowledged Thursday that his team’s drop coverage in Game 1 may have been too deep of a drop.
– “I think we were too low with our bigs being that far back,” he said. “We didn’t want them that far back. So an adjustment we want to make is being up especially with Herro and some of those guys looking to come off and shoot.”
– Celebrating his 36th birthday, former Heat guard Mario Chalmers was among those in the crowd.
– As was former Heat championship guard Jason Williams.
Source: Berkshire mont