When the Miami Heat pounced on the Boston Celtics, staggering them with two first-quarter runs of 12 and 14 points and entering the second quarter ahead 31-18, I was stunned.
Down 3-0, I figured the Heat would roll over and play dead rather than win just to force the series back to Boston. “I know a lot of people expected us to roll over and just give them the series because they were up, 3-0,’’ Dwayne Wade told the Boston Globe. After all, who wants to fly across the whole damn country, when you can stay in South Beach and begin enjoying the offseason?
And then the game started, and Boston — in Doc Rivers’ words — tried to throw a haymaker, but instead played more like Tony in Blue Chips… ya know, the player who shaved points by throwing the ball to the wrong team. Boston breathed life into the Miami players by continually feeding them the ball and starting fast breaks, and Miami started the game off on a roll.
Later, when Boston surged seven points ahead with an extended run of their own, I again thought Miami would fold like a lawn chair. Oh, how wrong I was.
“We didn’t break,’’ Wade said. “When they took the lead, we never broke, and that’s the biggest thing and that’s the turning point from any other game. We stayed with it even when it looked bad and it was like, ‘OK here comes another one.’ We made the plays we needed.’’
Being down seven points only made it more dramatic when Dwyane Wade got hotter than a mid-summer day in hell.
“We were just playing for the moment,’’ center Joel Anthony said. “We understood what was on the line. This is our season that we’re playing for. It was just about doing your job. Everyone knows what their role is on the team and what they’re supposed to do.’’
“It would have been so easy for all of us just to quit,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Who wants to really think about getting on a plane to Boston? But now you play in front of a crowd like this, you get inspired. Your captain plays like that, you better believe this group is inspired to find some way to get this thing back in front of those fans.’’
So now Miami makes the trip up north, still massive underdogs trying to succeed at a feat never before accomplished — coming back from a 3-0 series deficit.
“If there’s any team in the NBA that can win four straight,” Michael Beasley told the Miami Herald, “we can do it.”
The Heat are dreaming big and, because of a steely resolve cemented by Dwyane Wade’s flurry, those dreams remain alive.
But something tells me they’re going to feel the dreaded pinch soon. It’s almost time to wake up.