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Game 3 performance predictable, not concerning

Jun 02, 2012 -- 10:28am

By: Jeremy Marks-Peltz

Uninspiring, lethargic, and completely predictable. Three ways to describe the Heat’s 101-91 Game 3 loss in Boston.

I’ll add one more, important to add for perspective purposes: Not that concerning…yet.

For full disclosure purposes, part of my indifference towards the Celtics technically “making it a series” was due to what happened in Queens, NY today. The New York Mets, the team I’ve had a love/hate relationship for my whole life with, came up with their first no-hitter, an event I didn’t think I would witness in my entire life. With all the emotion I experienced after Johan Santana fanned David Freese to make the elusive Mets no-no official, there wasn’t much left for the Heat game, which, by that point, had gotten out of hand thanks to a 15-0 Celtics run.

Here’s the point of Game 3. What transpired on Friday night happens all the time. A superior team takes a 2-0 lead, goes on the road, does not play as hard in Game 3. Meanwhile, the team down 2-0, with it’s backs against the wall, feeds off the home crowd, gets some favorable calls, and makes a statement. It happened last year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals., it happened Thursday in the Western Conference Finals, and it happened to the Heat in Game 3.

How do we know the Heat left something on the table? Look at their defensive effort in Game 3. 50 percent shooting allowed, 100-plus points in regulation for the first time this postseason, a full buffet of failed close-outs, lazy rotations, and not getting back on transition defense. Kevin Garnett (24 points, 11 rebounds) did whatever he wanted. Paul Pierce attacked and got to the line. Rajon Rondo eased his way to a 21 point, 10 assist game. Inspired reserve performances from Keyon Dooling and, of all people, Marquis Daniels, not to mention a dominant 44-32 rebounding edge for Boston, spelled doom for the Heat.

Much will be made about the Heat’s dreadful free throw shooting (10-20 FT), nobody other than LeBron James scoring until it was too late, and the absence of Chris Bosh. Those are certainly factors, but theHeat lost this game, plain and simple, because they couldn’t get stops. They didn’t seem to care enough to get stops. It can be frustrating, but it’s also the NBA. Teams take regular season games off, and a 2-0 series lead can often times lead to coasting through the third game because it’s not a must-win.

The Celtics played great, and deserved to win. The Heat played lousy, and deserved to lose. The effort level, the officiating, the token late Miami run, it was all very predictable. So is the overreaction from Heat fans, not willing to concede that the Celtics are, ummm, slightly better than the Charlotte Bobcats.

So let me predict one more thing that I think will come to fruition in Game 4: The Heat will be much more spirited, much more physical, and will pull out a close victory. They are the better team in the series, even if they weren’t on Friday night.

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