After putting on a show the way Dwyane Wade did at home on Sunday, you might expect the kid to cool off a little, right? You can bet every Heat fan is hoping the answer to that is a resounding, "NO!" Besides the fact that we don’t want that to happen, D-Wade has given us no reason whatsoever to think that it might happen—not even a little bit.
For the series, he is averaging better than 34 points per (his scoring has increased every single game) and is shooting better than 60% from the field (having shot no worse than 53% in any one game) and better than 43% from three (including a 5 of 8 and a 5 of 7).
Appreciate what you’re witnessing, because this is just unheard of. So assuming Dwyane keeps up his stellar play (which I don’t take for granted because these are phenomenal numbers), here’s the other sticking points that will decide the game:
Frontcourt production: Perkins/Garnett/Wallace/Davis were a combined 23 points (0 from Perkins), 22 rebounds (0 from Wallace), and 3 blocks in Game 4. Beasley/O’Neal/Haslem/Anthony totaled 18 points, 24 rebounds, and 2 blocks. If the Heat Bigs can continue to match the Celtics frontcourt as well as they did on Sunday (keeping in mind that Joel, U-D, and JO combined for a grand total of 3 of those points), they are doing enough to keep us in the game.
Point Guard matchup: Arroyo/Chalmers joined forces for a 13 point, 6 assist, 4 turnover (all on Chalmers’ watch), and 2 steal effort on Sunday. Rajon Rondo had 23 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 turnovers all by his lonesome. Heck, he even hit a couple of threes! It marks the first time this series Rondo has looked as comfortable as he did on Sunday, and that worries me going into Game 5. If he gets his game going, it will only open up things for the other guys. The defensive approach the Heat employ against Rondo as well as the performance of Wonder Twins Arroyo and Chalmers will play an important role in this game.
Three point shooting: Boston was 8-21 from three overall in Game 4. Without Rondo’s threes (I can’t believe I just typed that!), the accuracy was a much more bleak 6 of 18. Paul Pierce missed 6 of his 8 attempts from behind the arc. Pierce and Allen have a penchant for hitting timely threes, and it just didn’t happen in Game 4. That could very well change back in their own gym. Q early and D-Wade late accounted for all but one of the Heat’s threes on Sunday. Rio chipped in one as well. The Celtics are much more stingy defensively at home. They will look to clog up the lane. They may bet on Dwyane not being able to continue his torrid 43% clip from distance. If he can be a threat from three, along with help from Q, Dorell, Rio, and maybe even James Jones, we can certainly keep it interesting.
Turnovers: Game 4 was the ONLY game in which the Heat won the turnover battle. Coincidentally, it is the only game we have won so far. Oddly enough, each team had 13 apiece in the Game 2 fiasco. Go figure. That said, keep the turnovers to a minimum, Guys. That includes D-Wade (he had six TOs in that otherwise superhuman Game 4 performance). I’m thinking 10 or fewer turnovers for the Heat to come out on top.
Bench play: Miami’s bench totaled 12 points and 22 rebounds on Sunday against Boston’s 20 and 7. What our bench lacked in points, they made up for with rebounding, hustle, and heart. Joel Anthony’s impact was much greater than his stats show. The guy just had a presence out there. The Heat outscored the Celtics by 22 points during Anthony’s 20 minutes and change. We need more of the same from our bench and maybe Udonis Haslem could actually get a putback or two or hit a jumper here or there.
So, with another ridiculous effort from D-Wade, if we can keep it close in all five of these key areas or even dominate a couple of them, the Heat can prolong the season yet again. GO HEAT!!!