Narratives and Counter-Narratives regarding the Celtics’ 3-0 record vs. the Miami Heat

Probably an accurate portrayal of peoples’ emotions right now. Except for Jermaine O’Neal, because he didn’t play. But that’s probably close to what he would have looked like, anyway.

Tonight’s Celtics-Heat game was much hyped, and for good reason. It was the the first of two games in ABC’s Sunday Showcase between the two teams battling for the top of the Eastern Conference. Some quick observations:

-Both teams played strong team defense. It got physical–Dwyane Wade received a flagrant (dubious as it was) and there were hard picks and tangle-ups every few minutes
-The game featured traded baskets in the first half, impressive runs in the second half, and came down to the final possession. Super exciting in almost every way.
-It also featured some poor shooting from Miami’s sharp-shooters in Mike Miller and Eddie House (a combined 2-11); Miller missed the potential game-tying three to end the game.
-On a related note, Boston’s bench (10-17 FGs, 26 pts) severely outplayed Miami’s bench (2-12 FGs, 8 pts)
-That being said, Miami’s All-Star swingmen (16-38, 38 pts) shot better than Boston’s All-Star swingmen, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (5-24; 14 pts, Pierce was 0-10 with 1 point) in this defensive dogfight.
-Thankfully for the world, it featured this play courtesy of Glen Davis. How does it stack up with this one from Andray Blatche?

Other than observing the game itself, I have observed tweets and articles claiming the Heat haven’t proven themselves worthy of beating the C’s, as the Celts are 3-0 versus the Heat. Well, ’tis true–the Heat have yet to beat the Celtics, even in Miami. But remember this–the games have been close and two of them have been in Boston. Even more importantly, the first two were within the Heat’s first 9 games (the second loss to the Celtics put them at 5-4). The Celtics’ first victory over the Heat, an 88-80 home victory, was the first game of the season. The Celtics have been among the league’s elite since 2007-08 while the Heat had yet to play a regular season game together as currently composed. The Celtics’ second victory was a 112-107 win in Miami. Today, the Celtics barely won 85-82 on their home floor and benefited from a key non-call with 2:10 left when Kevin Garnett appeared to foul James on an attempted layup. KG, who drained a jumper with 1:50 left on the next possession to extend the lead to 83-79, would have fouled out on the previous play.

The Celtics are 3-0 versus the Heat, but two out of three games have been close, two have been on the Celtics’ home turf, and two were during the Heatles’ infancy. The Heat have yet to realize their potential, and while the Celtics will show up in the playoffs–they always do–their age may pose a disadvantage after a tough regular season battling for home court in the East. For now, we can recognize this 3-0 record, but we should also identify the other factors that undermine the narrative purporting the Celtics’ pure dominance over the Heat.

Where does the real truth lie, if it exists at all? Will any of this matter in May, anyway? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook.

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