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Inside the Numbers: How the Heat took out the Celtics

Hello World!

So the Miami Heat have taken out the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics in dominating fashion.

I mean we all knew the Heat would be great at some point, but this soon?

Regardless of when we actually thought the Heat would rise above those mighty Celtics in the Eastern Conference hierarchy, one thing is for certain, they are now a legitimate force to be reckoned with and whichever team, whether that be the Bulls or the Hawks, gets them next is in for the fight of their collective basketball lives.

If they stick to the same impressive blueprint that charged them straight past the veteran Celtics, their chances are pretty solid to make it all the way to the NBA Finals, amazingly, in just their first full season playing together.

The New "Big 3" of the NBA

The New "Big 3" of the Miami Heat led by Dwyane Wade thoroughly dominated the Celtics older version in the Eastern Conference Semis. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

So just how did they, ultimately, take out the mighty mighty Boston Celtics in five quick games?

What exactly was that aforementioned blueprint of success?

First off the Wade-LeBron connection was just too much for this injury-riddled veteran bunch of Celtics to deal with.

If they stopped LeBron, then Wade just came at them.  If they stopped Wade, then…well you get the point.

In five series games LeBron James and Dwyane Wade constituted for an incredible 61% of the Heat offense – James averaging 28 points per game on 47.2% shooting from the floor and Wade dominating the C’s to the tune of 30.2 points on an ultra-efficient 52.6% shooting.

And those are just the points they scored, that doesn’t even account for the assists both guys handed out and easy offensive putbacks Heat teammates secured as a result of their relentless attack of the rim – James averaged 3.6 assists per game in the series with Wade, who was truly the driving force, handing out a team-high 4.8 helpers.

So in reality if we wanted to title this here little post correctly we should have gone with – Inside the Numbers: How James and Wade took out the Celtics – because that’s what really happened.

Their absolute superior speed on offense and defense simply wore the older Celtics out in the end.

Rondo’s elbow injury suffered in the third quarter of the Celtics inspiring Game 3 victory didn’t help matters either.  Although, the wonderfully-stubborn Celtics’ point guard would attempt to play anyway, it was obvious to see that he was not near as effective after the injury.

However, Boston had a plethora of opportunities to triumph.

In a pivotal Game 4 loss they allowed the Heat to storm back from down eight to force overtime, ultimately losing to James and the eager Heat by eight.

To that point, Boston’s huge Game 4 loss only magnified their unavoidable deficiencies in the series.

Below we take a much closer look at a couple of those ultimate series-defining deficiencies.


If you follow NBA basketball long enough you can look at a few key stats on a box score and pick the winner 90-95% of the time.  Rebounds would be one of those statistics that are indicative of winning or losing ball games.

In the Eastern Conference Semis the Heat averaged 40.4 rebounds per game to Boston’s 34.8.  Even more telling with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James continuously attacking the paint, Miami grabbed almost 10 (9.4) offensive rebounds per game when their two superstars did happen to miss a bucket.

We all know that the golden rule to finishing off a play defensively is securing the board, if you can’t secure the rebound then all that work you did for 24 seconds is null and void.

One would think the Celtics would’ve learned their lesson from Game 7 of last season’s exciting NBA Finals, however a lack of commitment on the boards, ultimately, came back to bite them in the end, yet again.

Free Throw Disparity

Another key statistic in winning and losing teams is free throw disparity.  Chances are if you’re getting to the free throw line you’re being aggressive.  That is how the successful teams win in the NBA; they impose their will on the opposition.

Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat had this all-important aggressive mentality from the start.  Wade and his cronies basically said I’m either going to score attacking the rim or get fouled, you pick.  I refuse to settle for jumpshots.

Based on the final free throw numbers when the series ended Wednesday it was pretty obvious to see which team was ultimately attacking and which team was settling.

The Heat were the aggressors in this one getting to the line an average of 30.6 times per game knocking down 23.6 of those attempts – Wade averaged a team-high 11.6 free throw attempts in the series.

Boston, on the other hand, got to the line an average of just 21.2 times per contest putting in 16.8 of their free shots.

So that’s a 6.4-point difference in points scored from the free throw line on average in the series.  Basically the Heat got six free points for being the aggressors.


Sure the key stats and numbers went the way of the Heat, but ultimately, this matchup came down to the aggressive mindset Miami had from the start.

If you recall in Game 1 Dwyane Wade came out guns a blazing putting in a game and series high 38 points on 14-of21 shooting from the field.  That single effort set the tone for the so-called new kids on the block as they took that momentum and carried it through to the end.

Miami dominated the series with speed and will.  They hounded the C’s defensively on the perimeter and at the rim getting a worthy effort from undersized center Joel Anthony.

Anthony’s final numbers may not look all that impressive, but his 1.8 blocks per game and his remarkable shot-changing ability in 31 minutes of action per game simply cannot be understated.

For a team that’s heard all season long that they just don’t have the size upfront to compete, they’re competing with the best of them and that right there is the difference in the team’s success on the defensive end to this point in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

For Boston the ineffectiveness of their injured floor general was just too much to overcome in the end.

We knew before the series started that the only way the Celtics had a chance to beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semis was if they had a playoff performance from Rondo similar to last year’s postseason heroics.

And although Rondo’s effort was indeed heroic giving it a go despite a dislocated left elbow, his presence to his tired Celtics club was extremely nullified by the lack of strength in that arm.

The offseason now holds many questions for GM Danny Ainge who literally blew up the team mid-season shipping center Kendrick Perkins to OKC in a move that may go down as one of the most peculiar personnel moves of All-Time.

But unfortunately for the Celtics the countless injuries and front office moves can’t take away from the huge achievement the Heat with their confident trio of Wade, James and Bosh were able to accomplish in their first season playing together.

Taking out the Celtics in five games is impressive indeed.

Below are the numbers from each game to prove it.

(2) Heat vs.
(3) Celtics

Game 1 – Eastern Conference Semifinals: Heat 99 – 90
American Airlines Arena Miami, FL
Sunday May 1, 2011
(Miami leads s
eries 1-0)

Dwyane Wade (Mia): 38 pts, 1 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk, 2 TOs, 14-21 FG, 8-8 FT, 2-5 3PT
Ray Allen (Bos)
: 25 pts, 3 ast, 3 reb, 1 stl, 0 TOs, 9-13 FG, 2-2 FT, 5-8 3PT

Team Rebs O Rbs Ast Free Throws FG% 3pt% *PIP *Fast *TOs
Heat 39 5 17 26-32 (81%) 47.1% 9-19 (47%) 26 10 16
Celtics 39 7 18 14-18 (78%) 42.7% 12-24 (50%) 26 15 13

Game 2
– Eastern Conference Semifinals: Heat 102 – 91
American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Tuesday May 3, 2011
Miami leads series 2-0)

Dwyane Wade (Mia): 28 pts, 8 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 4 TOs, 8-20 FG, 11-13 FT, 1-3 3PT
Rajon Rondo (Bos)
: 20 pts, 12 ast, 6 reb, 1 stl, 3 TOs, 7-16 FG, 6-8 FT, 0-1 3PT

Team Rebs O Rbs Ast Free Throws FG% 3pt% *PIP *Fast *TOs
Heat 44 12 15 27-36 (75%) 45.3% 7-16 (44%) 38 12 10
Celtics 38 10 18 17-22 (77%) 43.0% 6-11 (55%) 38 12 11

Game 3
– Eastern Conference Semifinals: Celtics 97 – 81 *Analysis
TD Garden, Boston, MA
Saturday May 7, 2011
Miami leads series 2-1)

Dwyane Wade (Mia): 23 pts, 6 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 3 TOs, 8-19 FG, 6-7 FT, 1-5 3PT
Kevin Garnett (Bos)
: 28 pts, 1 ast, 18 reb, 2 stl, 0 TOs, 13-20 FG, 2-2 FT, 0-1 3PT

Team Rebs O Rbs Ast Free Throws FG% 3pt% *PIP *Fast *TOs
Heat 36 12 20 14-19 (74%) 42.5% 5-23 (22%) 40 5 14
Celtics 39 10 27 14-17 (82%) 50.0% 9-18 (50%) 42 18 12

Game 4
– Eastern Conference Semifinals: Heat 98 – 90 OT
TD Garden, Boston, MA 7:00 PM ET
Monday May 9, 2011
Miami leads series 3-1)

LeBron James (Mia): 35 pts, 14 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl, 0 blk, 5 TOs, 12-28 FG, 9-9 FT, 2-6 3PT
Paul Pierce (Bos)
: 27 pts, 3 ast, 8 reb, 1 stl, 2 blk, 4 TOs, 10-20 FG, 6-7 FT, 1-6 3PT

Team Rebs O Rbs Ast Free Throws FG% 3pt% *PIP *Fast *TOs
Heat 45 10 10 25-28 (89%) 44.3% 3-13 (23%) 48 9 17
Celtics 28 3 15 25-29 (86%) 42.9% 5-16 (31%) 32 15 16

Game 5
– Eastern Conference Semifinals: Heat 97 – 87
American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL 7:00 PM ET
Wednesday May 11, 2011
Miami wins series 4-1)

Dwyane Wade (Mia): 34 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl, 0 blk, 3 TOs, 13-19 FG, 8-15 FT, 0-1 3PT
Kevin Garnett (Bos)
: 15 pts, 3 ast, 11 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk, 3 TOs, 6-13 FG, 3-8 FT, 0-0 3PT

Team Rebs O Rbs Ast Free Throws FG% 3pt% *PIP *Fast *TOs
Heat 38 8 13 26-38 (68%) 46.4% 7-19 (37%) 36 12 9
Celtics 30 4 15 14-20 (70%) 49.3% 7-15 (47%) 30 2 17

*PIP = Points in the Paint
*Fast = Fastbreak Points
*TOs = Turnovers

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