Monday, June 4, 2012

In Miami, "Still The Same" Not Just A Bob Seger Song

Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland has a great illustrated article this morning analyzing the Heat's offensive action on their final play of overtime in last night's Eastern Conference Finals Game 4.  In peering at the tiny images of black-jerseyed men, what I found interesting is that, with Chris Bosh injured and LeBron James disqualified with 6 fouls, the Heat's remaining lineup in overtime was essentially their 2009-10 pre-Decision squad: James Jones, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, and Dwyane Wade, with a newcomer, Shane Battier, ably filling the lanky silhouette of Michael Beasley.  (Another player from the 2009-10 roster, Joel Anthony, started the game at center for Miami last night and played 15 minutes.)  Boston, with the same four stars that they now field, made short work of that Miami squad two springs ago, winning the first three games and finishing the Heat in the fifth.  The stat lines of Boston's top guys have not changed much since 2010's Game 4:  Rondo delivered 23 and 9 then, 15 and 15 yesterday.  Garnett posted 18 and 12 then, matched by 17 and 14 this year.  Pierce and Allen scored 16 and 15 then; they put up 23 and 16 last night.

What is worth marveling at is that Miami's holdover supporting players from 2009-10 -- Anthony, Chalmers, Jones, and Haslem -- were not even starters then on a mediocre team.  Miami's starters from the 2010 playoff series -- Jermaine O'Neal, Beasley, Quentin Richardson and Carlos Arroyo -- have long since been jettisoned.  Miami's overtime squad last night consisted of Dwyane Wade and a bunch of nobodies.  (Well, and the No-Stats All-Star.)  It would have been embarrassing, really, if the Celtics could not finish them off.  Yet Miami almost won, succumbing at the end when Wade's open three-pointer rimmed out.  Coach Erik Spoelstra, also a mainstay since before James and Bosh came aboard, has succeeded in inspiring these lesser players to play with the ruthless aggression modeled each night by the Heat's two star wings.

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