In a weird way, the Celtics lend a helping hand to their most talented Eastern Conference opponents. In a weird way, the Celtics offer the Miami Heat pointers. In a weird way, they tutor their rivals.
I’m not saying they do it overtly. Paul Pierce doesn’t phone Lebron James and tell him how to execute Pierce’s famed stepback jumper. Ray Allen isn’t going to email Dwyane Wade the proper jumpshot form. Rajon Rondo won’t sit down with Carlos Arroyo and explain how to run an offense. Kevin Garnett doesn’t text Chris Bosh the meaning of the word “defense.” And I can’t imagine Shaq taking Joel Anthony under his wing to teach him how to put the ball in the basket.
But the Celtics laid the blueprint for how a three-pronged group of All-Stars can join together and, in their first season, win a championship. They showed that chemistry can be formed instantly, that egos can be shoved aside for a team’s good. That a team doesn’t necessarily need a single go-to guy down the stretch, that three options (and now, four) can be even more successful. They showed that the offense will take care of itself, and that defense is where teams win games. In short, the Celtics have spent three years demonstrating everything the Heat need to prove.
Chris Bosh told NBA.com’s David Aldridge that the Heat already look to the Celtics for inspiration.
“A lot of people’s concerns is, ‘is the ball big enough?,’ ” Bosh said. ” ‘Are there gonna be enough shots for everybody?’ To be quite frank, I remember ’07, and people were asking the same thing about the Celtics their first year (with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce), and they came out and showed people how to really play team basketball, and how superstars can come together for the team.
“We’re gonna have to do that same thing … we’re gonna have to set screens for each other, have each other’s back on defense. It’s so many other parts of the game where we have to play well and sacrifice for each other, other than offense.”
A lot of people, including the Celtics’ Big Three, point out that the Heat’s Three Amigos are in different points of their careers than Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were in 2007. James, Wade and Bosh are younger and haven’t finished compiling individual accolades. They are accustomed to setting the world on fire with statistics, not passing up open shots to get talented teammates involved. They have each spent their careers accomplishing feats and winning games mostly by themselves. Playing with such a stacked deck will be different, new, and perhaps overwhelming at times. But if used correctly, that stacked deck is an advantage against any team in the league.
Erik Spoelstra understands that winning games will come down to far more than talent, and told as much to the Miami Herald.
“A lot of the things that we want to stress this year have nothing to do with X’s and O’s and strategy, but it’s how we manage adversity and how we deal with tough times, how we stick together as a family and how we sacrifice for each other and how we hold each other accountable,” Spoelstra said. “All those things immediately get tested when you’re on the road, and especially in a tough environment like Boston.”
That sounds a lot like Ubuntu, right?
If the Heat want to learn how to successfully fuse their stable of stars, they should peer across the court tonight. And then they should take notes.