We outlined the Heat's final possession at Heat Index, and Sebastian Pruiti offers a nice pictorial account at NBA Playbook. LeBron James is taking criticism again for passing the ball out of the double-team into the hands of a prolific -- and wide-open -- 3-point shooter in a set play. Pruiti responds: "It is actually refreshing to not only see Spoelstra run a play appropriate for the situation, but seeing LeBron have faith in his coach and his teammates and not break the play off. For whatever reason, people seem to think LeBron not breaking off the play is an indictment of his heart, how much he wants to win, or how clutch he is. However, if you think about it, LeBron willing to pass it to the best three point shooter on the court rather than try to do it all himself shows how much he wants to win the game."
How do we gauge a bad loss? What percentage of the Heat's 90 offensive possessions must produce a cringe? Should we look at field-goal percentage or the quality of the look when it leaves a shooter's hand? Can we toss out a concentrated four-minute stretch like the beginning of the second quarter when the normally reliable Wade-Bosh unit gave the ball away on the majority of its trips downcourt? The Heat have produced a series of ugly losses (and wins) this season that have called into question their capacity to generate consistently good shot attempts in the half court, but Sunday's defeat in Boston -- crazy as it might sound -- just doesn't fall into that category when you watch it again. Couper Moorhead of Heat.com: "Supposedly, that’s the sort of loss that ascribes Miami a certain fate come the postseason, but taken on its own, it’s another step in the team’s evolution. Whether or not some open shots fall in the final minutes, the HEAT, in their ugliest and most physical game of the season, did not revert as much to the easier, home-run style of offense that Erik Spoelstra laments."
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix on how the Celtics bullied the Heat on Sunday: "Dwyane Wade was called for a flagrant foul after leveling Kevin Garnett for what Wade perceived to be an illegal screen on Mike Miller. A grand gesture? Yes. An example of physical play? Not even close. Physical is the way Boston's big men chip Wade and LeBron James when they go through the lane, how they dent Bosh's back with forearms every time he turns his back to the basket. It's how Rondo sacrifices his body in an unexpected matchup with James and angrily glares at teammates who dare offer him help. They play until the whistle in Boston. And then they play a few beats longer."
In future meetings, can the Celtics get away with sticking Rajon Rondo on LeBron James? Paul Flannery of WEEI: "To be clear, this wasn’t part of the game plan. Lawrence Frank, for one, turned to Rivers and said, 'We can’t do this.'"
Red's Army admires a photo of Kendrick Perkins blocking a left-handed layup attempt by Dwyane Wade, then asks a pretty sensible question: "Seems like a great block. I wonder how Perk had zero blocks in the box score."
Basketball Prospectus' Bradford Doolittle reminds us that the battle for the top seed in the East extends farther than the eastern seaboard: "You just get the feeling that the top seed this year is more important than it was last year. By the way, don't forget about the Bulls, who are just two games behind Boston in the loss column and one game behind the Heat. The Bulls have two games remaining against the Heat, one home and one away, plus one more home game against the Celtics."
Do the Celtics have Dwyane Wade's number? The Miami Herald's Joseph Goodman: "But Wade has certainly appeared uncomfortable in games against the Celtics this season. In his first two this season, Wade was 6-of-28 shooting from the field. Of course, in the first game against Boston, Wade had just returned from a hamstring injury he sustained during the preseason. Known for his clutch performances late in big games, Wade scored just seven points in the second half against the Celtics on Sunday. He did make an important three-pointer with 8:20 left in the game but did not score a field goal in the final four minutes."
The Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman answers a reader who wants to know when Kevin Garnett last fouled out in Boston: "If you read the collective-bargaining agreement carefully, you will notice it's actually not allowed in the commonwealth. The officials have special buzzers to notify them when he has five fouls. If they blow their whistles in such situations, they would be electrocuted."