The Miami Heat knew what they were getting themselves into. They were going into a raucous environment surrounded by 20,000 people that wanted Quentin Richardson's head and 14 motivated Boston Celtics that were ready to put a beating on the Heat.
How did the Heat respond to a Celtics team that lost one of their top players?
They watched Dwyane Wade struggle to lift his team before his back was broken from carrying the load for the past two games. The rest of the team and even the coach straight up did not care what was happening in front of their eyes in Boston.
They took a 29-25 early second quarter lead before Boston responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead. It then turned into a 10-0 run. Then a 15-0 run. Then 20-0 before it finally ended at 21-0 following a Michael Beasley jump shot.
A 29-25 lead in the matter of 10 minutes turned into a 46-29 deficit as the Heat were outscored 26-10 in the second quarter. This is the second straight playoff game where the Heat have scored 10 measly points in a quarter.
Luckily for us watching it home, we didn't have to get disappointed in the fourth quarter and could go about doing our business by watching an actual competitive basketball game on NBATV or waiting another hour for the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder to come on TNT.
Wade's five three-pointers and 29 points was all for naught as the Heat lost by 29 points to a Boston team without Kevin Garnett. This game could have easily been a 40 point win for the Celtics if they didn't loosen the reigns by starting their bench in the fourth quarter.
I am a Miami Heat fan. I like to see the Heat win games and if they do lose a game, I would like to see some sort of effort and a sense of competitiveness from the Heat to at least understand that they tried, but they lost to the better team.
This game was the epitome of a terribly played basketball game and it shocks me just how exactly the Heat won 47 games and are a five seed. This was the equivalent of the Denver Nuggets pounding of the New Orleans Hornets last postseason when the Nugs won by 50.
When the Heat win games, they usually rely on someone other than Wade. They would get points from Richardson, Beasley, or O'Neal. Those three combined scored 20 points on 9 of 31 shooting. Glen Davis alone had 23 points. Ray Allen alone had nine field goals on his way to 25 points.
To simply put it, this Miami Heat team was not ready. They aren't ready to go seven games with a team like the Boston Celtics, especially after ending the season facing off with the bottom feeders of the NBA.
The Celtics are a balanced team and a balanced team will beat a one-man team nine times out of 10. Wade could have dropped 50 points last night and the Heat still probably would have lost by double digits because of the simple fact that he has absolutely no help.
The reliable veteran that Jermaine O'Neal has been all year had the worst game of his season (and maybe his career) by showing up in Boston with two points on 1 for 10 shooting and the one field goal being a dunk. Aside from the five first quarter blocks, O'Neal looked like a player that was on his last legs as he missed easy jump shot after easy jump shot and refused to use his speed to blow past Kendrick Perkins.
The three-point specialist in Quentin Richardson who was ready to shut up the Boston crowd came out and dropped five points in 32 minutes. One for three from beyond the arc as he was constantly booed on every touch of the ball. I'm not sure if Kevin Garnett's elbow rattled something in Richardson's head, but he came out looking like a rookie who jumped at the sign of any defensive pressure.
Michael Beasley now is a completely different story. He was kind enough to drop 13 points and grab seven rebounds, but saw most of those points came in the fourth quarter during garbage time. Game after game, I find myself trying to defend Beasley's because I love the kid and I, along with Pat Riley, know that he has the capability of being a 20-10 kind of guy every night.
To get those 20 points though, you have to consistently make shots and draw fouls to get to the free throw line. Beasley would rather test his chances with shooting 20 foot jumpers while being defended by a much slower Glen Davis or Rasheed Wallace. Even with an open lane, Michael would rather spot up for a jumper before driving the lane when he's got extraordinary hops and athletic ability to beat out anyone at the rim. We've seen him drive strong and dunk on centers before, but for last night's game, I remember seeing one drive and it was blocked.
Game after game goes by and I wonder what this team would be like if Carlos Boozer or Amare Stoudemire was currently in the starting lineup, but alas I must watch and groan as I see Michael Beasley pump fake, hesitate, and jack up 20 footers. Alonzo Mourning, Eric Spoelestra, and Dwyane Wade all have made public comments to Beasley telling him to drive. I've seen no inclination by Beasley to change his game.
As for the bench, there is not much to say aside that I have been very and surprisingly disappointed by the play of Udonis Haslem in the past two games. Haslem has been a double-double machine all season off the bench and so far has 14 points and eight rebounds combined to show for it. When you aren't getting any help from anyone else, you should be able to rely on your seasoned veterans in Wade and Haslem.
We've seen Wade step up, Haslem is stepping up in his own way by playing some of his worst ball of the season and allowing players like Glen Davis to score a season high 23 points in a postseason game.
Last night was some of the most atrocious Heat basketball since the dreadful 2007-'08 campaign and it's something that no Heat wants to get used to, especially with free agency coming around the corner and Dwyane Wade claiming that "leaving is possible, but unlikely". With the new salary cap, the Heat now have the money to not only sign Wade and another maximum contract, but also a player of some talent as well, say a Rudy Gay type.
The only problem is that Miami needs to give Dwyane Wade a reason to stay. Losing 106-77 isn't helping the cause and with the series coming to Miami for the next two games, memories of 2006 arise. Every NBA fan is aware of the fact that Miami came back from 2-0 in the NBA finals to win the next four and win the first championship in franchise history.
This isn't the same team. Jermaine O'Neal isn't Shaquille O'Neal. Quentin Richardson isn't James Posey and Eric Spoelestra isn't Pat Riley. This might not be the same team, but a wake-up call is necessary because the city of Miami loves their Heat and they love having a successful team. The role players need to step up if they want to salvage anything from this series and this season.