The Miami Heat had the #1 defense in the Eastern Conference and the Boston Celtics claimed the #3 spot, and although the Celtics are a young team with a coach that’s fairly new to the NBA, this wasn’t a team that the Heat could ignore. At the half, it was pretty evident, since the Celtics were shooting almost 60% from the field and boasting a 6-point lead over the Heat. This is a Heat team who normally commanded the home court advantage. After all, they had only lost 2 games at home prior to the Celtics, but things were looking shaky.
The normally dominant Hassan Whiteside was 0-1 shooting, and there was no block party at the American Airlines Arena. The Celtics seemed to have figured out the way to contain Whiteside from dominance in the paint. It was pretty simple actually. They were forcing him to come outside and play the perimeter, where he normally isn’t the most comfortable. Dwyane Wade quickly noticed it as well.
Wade played well. On just over 31 minutes of playing time the Heat superstar put up 30 points, but the stat that was glaring in bright red was 6 turnovers. In fact, Wade accounted for 1/3 of the team’s turnovers of the night, and turnovers accounted for 24 points for the Celtics.
The play from the Heat was a bit sloppy from start to finish. It was incredible to even imagine that even deep into the fourth quarter there was still a chance for the to come back and take the victory. Chris Bosh was fouled on a score and the Heat were only one point away from the lead.
Yet, the Celtics weren’t phased. They had long figured out how to work the Heat stars, and it all seemed to flow through Whiteside. How does Whiteside deal with it when teams force him to the outside and take away his ability to pad his blocking stats?
Not only were the Celtics eliminating the Heat’s ability to do damage in the paint on defense, their offense worked for the entire team, and the Heat couldn’t stop it. All Celtics starters finished the game in double digit scoring. It was hard to watch and believe that the Heat were the #1 defense in the Eastern Conference, and with 3 home games against the Thunder, Cavaliers and Wizards coming up, the Heat will have some things to look at, including how to get teams to adjust to Whiteside instead of the other way around.