I didn’t know what to expect entering last night’s game.
I’d never seen the Miami Heat play a regular season game before (“no kidding, Jay”), so I didn’t know if they could possibly live up to the hype. I didn’t know whether the Three Amigos could mesh, and I wasn’t sure whether their bench was talented enough to make a difference. I didn’t know whether Lebron or Wade would be the leading man, and I didn’t know whether the second fiddle would take offense to being the second fiddle.
That was part of what made last night’s game so exciting. Nobody knows how good the Heat will be. People predicted 70 wins or 65 wins or however many wins, but nobody really knows. They have talent, obviously, but until that talent proves itself on the court anything remains possible. A lot of fans and analysts have already anointed the Heat Eastern Conference champions, but the element of unknown remains.
That’s why some tickets for last night’s game sold for $3,000. That’s why 500 media members were credentialed (more than a normal Finals game). That’s why I got texts this morning from friends I haven’t spoken to in months. The Celtics-Heat matchup was phenomenal in and of itself, but the Heat aren’t just a basketball team — they’re a mystery and a soap opera and a main attraction, all rolled into one. They’re something to fear, something to amaze, something to mesmerize you with wondrous possibilities.
And you know what else they are? 0-1.
After a raggedy performance that was almost saved by Lebron James’s heroics, the Heat were downed by a game Celtics team, 88-80. We still don’t know how good the Heat will be, and after last night’s uneven performance they still represent an unknown. But the Celtics? That old and familiar product, that overlooked afterthought of a former NBA champion? Their ways are known. Their ways are respected. And on a night that was supposed to usher in a new era of NBA basketball, a new superteam, the Boston Celtics stood in the way of an Eastern Conference torch-passing just by being themselves.
We can’t learn everything from last night’s game. It was only one game, only our first opportunity to see a Heat team that clearly hasn’t gelled, only our first chance to see a Celtics team trying to beat back age and keep the window of opportunity ajar. But we can take some things from the game, even if it was just a sloppy season opener played by two teams not yet fully formed. Read more »