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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Green Mile

The fork is on the counter. The bird has been in the oven for an hour. The meat thermometer needle is juuuust to the left of the “turkey” marking.

Not yet, Celtics Fan; not yet! 1

Don’t stick the fork in, yet. They aren’t quite done yet. But the Miami Heat are in deep, deep doo doo. The Heat had ample opportunity to slam the door on the Boston Celtics in Game 4, but, instead, lost in overtime after LeBron James fouled out and the Celtics launched a monster defensive surge in overtime, led by Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.

Heat Fan thought, “So what? We have home court.” Not anymore! It is this simple: the Heat must win Game 6 in Boston the return home and win a Game 7 to win the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics, for all practical purposes, have one opportunity, which appeared to be out of reach after a gut wrenching loss in Game 2 in Miami, to clinch an improbable conference title.


The home court advantage in the NBA playoffs cannot be understated. I could throw every statistic in the book to you, demonstrating how tough a playoff road win is. But all we need to do is look at both conference finals series. In both the Celtics-Heat series and the Thunder-Spurs series, the home team won the first eight consecutive games, 8 of 10 to date. Both higher seeded teams in each conference, the Spurs in the West and the Heat in the East, not only handed home court over to their opponents, but also handed those opponents a home close out game.

The Heat have had trouble, in general, winning in Boston and the Celtics have had few problems defending their home court in the playoffs. What the Heat have, mitigating their perilous circumstances, are a younger team with more total talent from players 1 through 12 on the active roster. The Heat have demonstrated that they are capable of competing with the Celtics at T.D. Garden in Game 4.

Wade may rue Game 4. 4


For all of the criticism, the Heat still have the best player in the game, three time MVP LeBron James, in his prime. They have 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade in his prime. They have All-Star Chris Bosh in his prime. The Celtics have four heavy hitters, but only one is in (or is entering) his prime, Rajon Rondo. Ray Allen has been a shell of himself during the playoffs with a gimpy ankle while Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are simply older and do not have the total stamina of their younger Miami counterparts.

That isn’t to say that Boston’s “Big Three” of Allen, Pierce, and Garnett are incapable of playing like the future Hall of Famers that they are. Garnett has answered that bell repeatedly during the playoffs. These guys are veterans who know what they have to do to win in big playoff situations. But sports medicine and physics are what they are and the energy and youth factors are on the side of the Heat.

Is this Garnett's future or a mirror? 2


Here is what you need to know. The Celtics are in the driver’s seat. They are tough at home. The Heat are bad in Boston. The Game 6 winner wins this series, in my opinion. The landscape strongly favors the Celtics.

HOW-EVER…should the Heat manage to finally take one in Boston and win Game 6, it’s over. You can quote me and put it in bold print: THE HEAT ARE NOT GOING TO LOSE A GAME 7 AT AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA IN MIAMI. Not…gonna…happen.

The historic trend in the NBA is overwhelmingly favorable to Miami. The Heat have been stifling at home all season. The Celtics already have one win in Miami during this series; earning a second would be Herculean. The Celtics would have to travel for a fourth time after having played a seven game marathon with a young, up-tempo Philadelphia 76ers team in the prior round. All of the weights that are placed on the scale of a playoff series would completely shift to the Heat in the event of a Game 7.

For now, however, the Heatles must walk The Green Mile back to Boston. The Celtics have a chance to make sure the Heat are carried out and cannot walk out. If not, it was a great ride for Boston’s Big Three.

Will the Heat go out like Wild Bill at "The Green Mile"? 3
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