By no stretch of the imagination was the first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics a microcosm of the regular season for the Miami Heat. Pretty much the only constant in both was Dwyane Wade’s play, which didn’t come as a surprise to anybody. What was truly perplexing was just about everything else. In the first section of the series recap let’s examine each Heat player (and coach Spoelstra) individually with a focus on post-season production as it relates to their prior regular season performance. There will be more of a focus later on team stats, matchups with the Celtics, etc.
Only continued his stellar play from the regular season which saw him notch an All-Star MVP trophy along with what surely will be his second nod for first team All-NBA honors. It was easily his best playoff series since the ’06 Finals MVP performance. Was not hesitant to expend energy on defense as well while covering Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Wade made the proper offensive adjustments after game 1 where Tony & Ray Allen had done a good job of keeping close to Wade without sending him to the free throw line. Speaking of free throws, Wade raised his free throw attempts back to double digits for the final two games of the series, taking away an advantage that the Celtics had.
Continued raising his scoring totals up to an astronomical 46 points in game 4, then dialed it back for 31 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists in the final game 5 and finishing that close to providing the first triple-double in Miami Heat playoff history.
Averaged 33.2 points, 6.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds for the series and his career playoff stats of 26.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds join only four other players in NBA history - Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Jerry West - to have averaged at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in the postseason (minimum: 40 games).
Showed some much-needed three point range in game 2 (5-8) and game 4 (5-7) but attempted too many overall with 33.6% of all his shot attempts coming from three point range for the series. As a matter of perspective, only 9.8% of all his shot attempts in the regular season where from beyond the arc. With his struggles at getting to the free throw line coupled with some of the best interior defense the Heat saw all season which prevented him from attacking the basket as he usually does, Wade managed to reach as many points as he did because of his range.
Final score: 10
Who would have thought Chalmers would have the moments he had in the series en route to finishing second in playoff scoring on the team, thoroughly outplaying starter Carlos Arroyo who’s lack of athleticism was painfully obvious against Rajon Rondo. In fact, it’s a bit of an indictment on the coaching staff when you realize that Chalmers only averaged 26.2 minutes compared to Arroyo’s 23.0 minutes when you consider how much more of an impact overall Mario had on the series. Not only did he display some clutch play that you always like to see in a young player during the playoffs but he improved on every statistical category except for assists and steals from the regular season to the postseason.
Chalmers was the second best player in the final game of the series where he scored 20 points and his improved shooting and defense allowed him to get more minutes by getting time at the 2 and playing along with Arroyo in the backcourt. Didn’t get as many steals as he did in the regular season but that also means he didn’t gamble as much which would have comprised his team’s defense. Consistently ran the fast break capably along with Wade when the Celtics turned the ball over. Gave the organization second thoughts about letting him go this summer.
Final score: 7
A disastrous playoff series unlike any other for the second highest paid player in the NBA after Kobe Bryant. His unbelievable 20.5% field goal shooting was among the worst in NBA playoff history, a precipitous drop from his surprisingly solid regular season.
Putting aside the numbers, O’Neal simply never fully returned from his string of then-minor injuries near the end of the season. Because he had been healthy throughout and because some time off would be good for him, not much attention was given to whether or not O’Neal would be back to 100% by the playoffs.
While no one expected O’Neal to be the player he was just a few years ago (much like Kevin Garnett), his shots weren’t just off - they were short, a clear sign his legs weren’t giving him enough pop. And he wasn’t providing much hustle either, getting precious few blocks, charges or rebounds. Aside from his miraculous 5 blocks in the first quarter of game 2, he only recorded 5 more the rest of the series.
His play in the postseason only reinforced the misguided national belief that the Heat were purely just a one-man show, robbing him the chance to show the national audience what his play really was like during the regular season. Not only was he the first option on offense at the onset of games, he was also cast in the same role on the second unit in the last half of the season which made it possible to give ample rest to Wade (an underrated aspect of the winning streak last month).
Without a doubt the biggest reason the Heat were so resoundingly beat by the Celtics. Imagine if one of the big 3 had had such a horrific series and then magnify that loss of production even further on a Heat team without the kind of depth that Boston has.
Final score: 0
Check back soon for the rest of the players and coach Spoelstra...
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