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Heat vs Celtics aftermath: What the media are saying...

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index, on the matchup between Rajon Rondo and LeBron James:

Was the unconventional move a success? If you gauge it solely by the scoreboard, yes -- that was when the Celtics made their big run.

But it’s hard to imagine the Celtics could duplicate their success in the next Celtics-Heat matchup. James is blessed with incredible floor awareness and routinely crushes defenses when they send an extra man to double-team him in the post. And he did it on Sunday. When James wasn’t setting up and-1 opportunities, James found Miller and House wide open on the perimeter. The Celtics were lucky that Miami didn’t convert on its golden opportunities. Otherwise, we may have seen a different outcome in the game. Ultimately, Rondo guarding James provided riveting theater during a matchup that was already loaded with fireworks, while adding yet another wrinkle to the budding rivalry. We’ll probably see it again next time around, but don’t be surprised if the overall results change. ...

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo:

The Celtics are still waiting for James and Wade to rise up and unleash the fury on them that’s overpowered the rest of the league. They’re still waiting for James and Wade and Chris Bosh – the three stars flexing and preening on that smoky July party platform in Miami – to trundle down off the stage and wrest away the Eastern Conference championship. Forget all this back-peddling Miami talk about Boston as a big brother, about themselves as some kind of neophytes trying to overcome the Celtics like Michael Jordan did the Detroit Pistons. Forget it all. The Heat need to be accountable for their expectations, for their mandate: Win now and win it all. All alone, Miller had forever to set and prepare himself for a 3-pointer that bounced away in the final seconds of the Celtics’ 85-82 victory. Out of the congestion, James made the proper pass to Miller, but it wouldn’t negate his failure to make one of his two free throws with the Heat trailing 83-81 with 12.5 seconds left. "Some of those go in, and some don’t," James said. "I’ve been in the same position a few times this year and made both." This isn’t the rest of the NBA. This is Boston, and no one is going to look to Mike Miller when the Heat lose to the Celtics. The blame goes to LeBron, because that’s where all the fawning and praise go, too. When he fails in the final minutes against the Celtics again, the King has to come much stronger in his self-condemnation. He doesn’t get a start-over against the Celtics with the Heat, the way he wants one afforded him. All his Cleveland demons come rollicking down to Miami with him, and there’s nothing about the Celtics’ size, strength or depth that stopped him from delivering those two free throws. ... Dave Hyde, Sun-Sentinel: Be honest. How many times before Mike Miller's miss decided things Sunday did you say, "Dwyane Wade just doesn't look himself?" A dozen times? Two dozen? That's because Wade didn't look like himself. The Heat guard didn't bend steel or leap tall buldings. He dribbled into corners and threw away balls. He missed shots he normally makes. For uncomfortable stretches that lasted longer than the Paleozic Era, Wade went unnoticed. Invisible, even. "Just didn't have a great day,'' he said after the Heat's 85-82 loss to Boston. For all the fallout from this game that will keep falling until these teams meet in the Eastern Conference finals, this is either the good or bad news for the Heat. Good: Come on, it's Wade we're talking about. Bad: That makes all three games against Boston he's played like this. The Heat can't do anything about their lack of a point guard except what they did Sunday, which was to yank an overmatched Mario Chalmers and insert LeBron James at the position. They can't do anything about their lack of a real center, other than lament with Joel Anthony in the fourth quarter they're playing a man short offensively and allowing Boston's Kevin Garnett to roam the defensive plains. The Heat can't get back that final shot by Miller, either. Sometimes you just don't make the big shot. That's a hard thing to accept in basketball. LeBron missed a free throw that would have tied it near the end. Miller then missed the kind of open, final-second, three-point shot that would have sent the game to overtime, erased an otherwise disappointing Heat effort and possibly sent a message to Boston. "That's the shot we want every time,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. Instead, it was the Celtics who sent a message to the Heat. They were missing a few reserves. They were coming off a tough week of games against the Lakers and Dallas. They even withstood Paul Pierce having his worst shooting game (0-for-10, one free throw) since 1999. ... Kevin Arnovitz of the Heat Index breaks down the final play of the game complete with Xs and Os: Process versus results is one of the most excruciating realities of sports. Sometimes your team gets exactly what it wants on a possession, yet can't capitalize. Other times, a busted play with zero execution will produce a desperate heave that falls through the net. On Sunday, the Heat bench drew up a well-orchestrated set against a stingy defense. Chances are that if you offered Spoelstra and Miller another open, straightaway 24-footer to tie the game, they'd snatch it. ... Also, at the Heat Index, Mike Wallace reports that Mike Miller was tested for a concussion: Miami Heat forward Mike Miller was tested by doctors for concussion-related symptoms in the hours leading to Sunday's game against the Boston Celtics. Miller, who was cleared to play against the Celtics, initially met with a doctor in Detroit on Friday night after he took a hit near his head during the Heat's 106-92 victory over the Pistons. A Heat team spokesman described Miller's post-game doctor's visit as "standard procedure" and also confirmed the team's primary physician in Miami was consulted before Miller was cleared in advance of Sunday's game in Boston. It turned out to be one of Miller's worst shooting games of the season. He played 25 minutes and had nine rebounds but missed four of five shots from the field, including the potential game-tying 3-pointer just before time expired. Miller was one of the first Heat players to leave the locker room after the game. "Shoot, [it was] an open shot," Miller said of his attempt from the top of the key. "I've got to make it." Miller took another hard blow Sunday when he was buckled by a Kevin Garnett screen midway through the third quarter. Miller fell to the floor and got up slowly as play continued. Heat guard Dwyane Wade was assessed a flagrant foul with 7:18 left in the third quarter for running over to Garnett and extending his forearm as the two pursued a rebound in the lane after Miller fell. The altercation drew players from both teams into the lane, with Wade and Garnett having to be separated as referees sorted out the flagrant foul call. Wade said after the game he did not intentionally hit Garnett in retaliation for the hard screen set on Miller. ... Mike Salvucci, Celtics Hub: The Celtics scored 35 points in the 3rd quarter, turning a 4-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead. You had to love just about everything from this quarter. Rajon Rondo challenging LeBron defensively and sneaking into the Heat huddle. KG standing up for Rondo by setting a vicious screen on Mike Miller (yes he lowered the shoulder). Kendrick Perkins getting involved in the post. Big Baby Davis and Von Wafer coming up big off the bench. Throw in a terrible Flagrant call on Dwyane Wade, and that quarter just about had it all. Aside from it’s depth, Boston showed why its defense separates them from the Heat right now. Don’t get me wrong, the Heat are a very good defensive team. LeBron doesn’t get enough credit for how exceptional he is as a one-on-one defender (although he did today from Jeff Van Gundy). But watching the Celtics move collectively as a defensive unit, particularly in the last 3 minutes of the game, is truly a great sight, especially now with Perkins back in the mix. ... Bill Reiter, Fox Sports: Erik Spoelstra called Sunday part of the process and a chance to turn adversity into opportunity. LeBron James called it a disappointment that has no bearing on what's to come. Dwyane Wade said the Heat have plenty of time to get over their Celtics hump. Wrong. Miami cannot beat Boston. Not now. Not later. Not in a seven-game playoff series. Not gonna happen. For the Heat to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy this summer -- for them to justify pooling their talents and taking on the mantle of most hated team in America -- someone else will have to do their dirty work for them. That's the takeaway from a depleted and off-target Boston team's 85-82 win Sunday in TD Garden against Miami: In order for the Heat to be champions, they need Chicago, Orlando or Atlanta to step up in the playoffs and take out Boston. "We're disappointed about it," Spoelstra said. "But the next step is to continue to improve. And I know everybody wanted to really overstate this game and make it probably bigger than it was. We got another 28 games to continue to get better and move along in this process." They can move along all they want. But the process isn't going to involve getting to a point at which they can beat Boston. The Celtics are too tough, too mentally superior and too hungry when these teams match up. As for those next 28 games, the Heat need to make them about earning the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Then they need to hope Boston gets put on a path that ends before winding its way to Miami. The best bet for the Heat's hopes is Chicago taking the second spot in the East, Boston falling to the third, the Knicks acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Orlando stumbling. Then maybe, just maybe, the Celtics could see Orlando in the first round in a No. 3-vs.-No. 6 pairing and, if they advanced, face Chicago in the second round. And then maybe, just maybe, one of those two teams would knock off Boston. Sound farfetched? Not as farfetched as Heat fans thinking their team will figure out Boston come playoff time. ... Ethan Skolnik, Palm Beach Post: So there Miller stood again Sunday, this time with 6.3 seconds left, toes just behind the left sideline on the Heat's offensive end, before sending the ball in to LeBron James, who had missed a critical free throw on the Heat's previous possession. And, after receiving a pass back, there Miller stood behind the three-point line, straightaway, ball in his hands, chance to tie the Celtics, dangerous for sure. "Wide-open shot," Miller would say later, following the 85-82 loss. "Got to make 'em." He missed it. That made it official: The Heat, as a whole, had missed its wide-open shot. It had missed its wide-open shot to finally sink Boston after two previous defeats, on a day the hosts were so short-handed that they relied upon just six regulars and Von Wafer. It had missed its wide-open shot to extend or even retain its lead in the Eastern Conference entering the All-Star break. It had missed its wide-open shot to keep the Celtics from securing the tiebreaker that could decide the top post-season seed and a chance to avoid rising Chicago in the second round. ... In cast you missed it or want to enjoy it all over again...