Miami One by one, they made Boston’s stars grow old before us. LeBron James made a quick cut and — ouch! — Boston’s Paul Pierce left for a while with a foot injury.
Dwyane Wade made a magic move and — where’d he go? — Boston’s Kevin Garnett was a lost child in the mall, turned completely around, as Wade blew by for a layup.
Wade then made another move, hitting the air brakes. Boston’s Ray Allen couldn’t stop. Allen fell to the ground, like a supplicant, watching Wade’s three-point shot swish.
In Tuesday night’s 102-91 Heat win, the Heat’s Big Three played Boston’s Big Three like youth plays age. It was that simple. And that convincing. And perhaps that conclusive if the four-day rest before Game 3 doesn’t help Boston.
Once upon a time, these Celtics played for these spotlit moments, tough and unshakable, the perfect blend of veteran nerves and talent. Through two games it’s been the younger, more athletic Heat who have done it.
There was Garnett going up with the ball in the fourth quarter and his elevator stopped two floors short. LeBron was there waiting, just as James was everywhere in this second half.
Wade finished with 35 points, including a stretch of 10 straight points. But it wasn’t just him.
The Heat’s Big Three of LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh? Eighty points.
The Celtics’ Big Three of Garnett, Pierce and Allen: 36.
“Being down 2-0 doesn’t scare us, doesn’t make us nervous,” said Allen, who finished with just seven points. “It just means we’re down 2-0.”
Maybe so. But there are certain losses that resound more than others. There are certain nights that sit in your head, your joints and your bones. This was one of them.
They couldn’t stop Wade’s attacks, couldn’t control James’ strength. And the play of the night? It wasn’t from the Big Three.
In the fourth quarter, with the Heat leading by five, reserve center Joel Anthony tipped an offensive rebound from Big Baby Davis. He then tapped it to James under the basket. Dunk. Foul. Crowd went crazy.
Joel Flippin’ Anthony.
All night long, the Heat were on the verge of busting free in this game. And every time Boston would do enough to stay close with surprise people. Jeff Green had 10 first-half points. Jermaine O’Neal made big plays.
But when LeBron hit that succeeding foul shot, the Heat had an eight-point lead and didn’t look back. They closed it out. This wasn’t November anymore. It wasn’t even March.
“We’ve made a major step forward,” Bosh said. “We’re a lot better than we used to be.”
This four-day break until Game 3 is the Celtics’ best friend right now.
“In this case the rest is good,” coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s very good for us.”
Will it be enough? There will be a lot of talk of the Heat doing only what it had to so far, that the series doesn’t start until the home team loses. That’s all true. And, heaven knows, just when you think this Heat team is figured out this year, a surprise is waiting.
But through two games, the Heat looks younger and more athletic. Boston looks old. And that probably won’t change even when the arena does.