What a great Sunday! I’ll own up and say that a win was not what I’d expected today, but what a way to go.
Here’s a look at the numbers from the box score for this wonderful victory. So, the Heat lost, despite having:
- A higher field goal percentage (57.7% v 51.7%)
- A higher three-point percentage (50% v 47.6%)
- More assists (26-24, +2)
- Less turnovers (10-12, -2)
- More free throw attempts (34-12)
A difference of 22 free throws, that’s a big swing all right. We should also note that the Heat shot horribly at the free throw line today, making only 67.6%. One more free throw would have made the difference. By one more free throw, I mean this:
Thanks Wade, we really needed this.
On the other hand, the Celtics had a near-magical win because they:
- Took more shots (46-41, +5). This came from getting attempts at second-chance points.
- Second-chance points came about because they outrebounded the Heat (39-31, +8), more notably on offensive boards (11-4, +7). I’m loving the fact that we’re trying so hard on offensive rebounding this season, and that it hasn’t detracted too much from transition defense. Kudos to the top Celtic rebounder, Jared Sullinger for never settling, and always hustling to get the extra rebound. Loved his play since last season, loving it still.
- Made more three-pointers (10-5 advantage, +5). Jeff Green was calmly sinking threes at a steady clip (5/8), and Jordan Crawford made some huge last second bombs from way deep that saved some possessions. Steez is seriously turning into a last-second bailout option whenever we run out of steam; he simply pulls up and lets it fly with supreme confidence. Bradley also made a big three pointer that kept the team in the race. Winning this column was critical to the win, when you consider the fact that the Miami Heat are the team that attempted 22.06 three-pointers per game and made 49.6% of them last season (10 attempts today) (reference). Ray Allen’s not going to be only shooting 0/1 from downtown the next game either, you can bet on that.
- Point guard switch. Avery was finally taken off the spot, allowing him to get back to the 2 guard spot. While not perfect or All-Star level, Jordan Crawford/Phil Pressey have been solid in scoring, minimising turnovers and making the right plays most of the time.
- Interesting how Vitor was benched in favour of playing Olynyk.
- Pitbulls, surging! Avery had 8 of 14 shots, Courtney 3 of 4, combined for 23 points. While not LeBron/Wade-esque, I liked the way they played on offense, getting to the rim on layups and not just settling for jump shots. Avery in particular, finished a very impressive layup over James in transition, an attempt I thought would end up being erased.
- Grit and grind. For not giving up. For pushing the ball up for transition baskets. For all the hustle and relentless attempts to stop easy layups (LeBron’s double-clutching excluded.)
- The winning inbound play when it mattered. Credit to coach Stevens for drawing it up, and to Gerald Wallace for lobbing that perfectly over Birdman. And finally, to Iron Man Jeff Green for swishing it over King James, picture-perfect.
Like how Sam Amico said it:
Celtics, Sixers, Suns, Magic, Lakers minus Kobe. All supposed to be bad. Maybe eventually. But not today. Love how all scrap, play w/pride.
— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) November 10, 2013
Perhaps we’ll sink back into an awful rut soon after, and everyone will be starting up the “LET’S GO WIGGINS!” chant once more. But for now, it’s encouraging to see how the team’s putting some wins together with determination, some solid defense and rebounding, relentless transition offense, and a goodly dose of much-needed scoring.
Stay positive, and keep grinding!