Shortly before the Miami Heat's visit to the Boston Celtics, fans found out that Dwyane Wade would return from his one-game absence and that LeBron James would sit out with back spasms. Things didn't go so bad in the first quarter, as the Heat took a 34-22 lead into the second quarter and moved the ball well. But that would only last so long.
From the opening minutes of the third quarter onward, the game was close. Chris Andersen knotted the score at 94 all on a dunk with three minutes and 38 seconds left. But the Celtics' ensuing possession was a long one, as Boston secured two offensive rebounds and ended the trip with a Jeff Green 3-pointer. Wade made a layup with 92 seconds left to put Miami within 96-99. Although Boston came up short on the other end, Mario Chalmers missed an open 3 to tie the game. The Heat's old nemesis, Rajon Rondo, made a running jumper in the closing seconds to ice it.
This game was certainly disappointing from the Heat, even when accounting for James' absence. Boston is a bad offensive team that had only shot above 50 percent from the field seven times this entire season. And the Celtics did it Wednesday night against Miami, and knocked down 13 triples. Miami had already defeated the Portland Trail-Blazers and Chicago Bulls without James -- two teams far better than the lottery-bound Celtics.
Why did Miami lose this game? What was different tonight? The supporting cast did its job; Wade and Bosh simply did not. After an efficient first half, Wade went just 2-of-9 from the field in the second half and finished with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Chris Bosh's 3-of-11 shooting performance obscured his 11-rebound night. When James sits out, the Heat simply need more than 23 points from Wade and Bosh.
And as I said, the supporting cast more than filled its role. Udonis Haslem got the start -- Greg Oden sat out the second night of a back-to-back -- and scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Miami isn't going to get many 14-point outings from Haslem these days. Michael Beasley, another player who doesn't play much but started, added 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. These were two players who typically don't get off the court adding significant, tangible offensive production.
Chalmers dished out eight of his 11 assists in the first half. Ray Allen scored 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. And Chris Andersen put together arguably one of his best games as a Heat member. The Birdman finished with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and eight rebounds. Andersen was especially impressive in the fourth quarter, cleaning up a lot of broken Heat possessions and keeping Miami in the game.
When the Heat offense breaks down, Miami simply needed Wade and Bosh to convert more often. The Heat will look to get back in the win column Friday night at 7:30 against the Memphis Grizzlies.