This is a blog.
My job is to dig a little deeper than most boxscores and highlight reels.
From a (Larry) Bird’s-eye view of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, it would appear that the older Boston Celtics just simply ran out of gas. The younger and more explosive Heat, specifically Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, ran past them in Games 6 & 7.
See, that doesn’t work for me.
For the second series in a row, what appeared to be the better “team” fell to the better “superstars” ()see Thunder vs. Spurs). It tells you what wins in the NBA Playoffs…star power.
In the case of the Boston-Miami series, I think it was a little more. As great of a coach as he is, Doc Rivers is partly to blame.
Doc is one of the better strategists in the league…more importantly, he’s a versatile coach. He adapts to his personnel as the season goes one and even adapts as a series goes on.
In Game 6 of the series, Lebron James showed the Celtics that he is as dominant in the post as he is from the perimeter. Rivers countered by putting the bigger, stockier Brandon Bass on him. He adapted to the situation.
The problem is, he started Game 7 with the same matchup and stayed with it all game. In the 4th quarter, when many people saw the Celtics fading, I saw Lebron James being guarded by a PF out on the perimeter. The defense was in shambles…even the sporadic zone that had worked throughout the series failed the C’s.
Watching Bass get crossed over by Lebron brough visions of 2007 when The Detroit Pistons put Jason Maxiell (similar build to Brandon) on James for a big part of crunch time. The result was that torrid run where Lebron scored something like 25 straight points (not counting a Drew Gooden lay-up) and led the Cavaliers to an overtime win. It eventually propelled them to the NBA Finals.
In 2012, Doc Rivers went with a similar strategy and it saw a very similar result. Is it just a coincidence that Flip Saunders, the coach of that Piston team, was serving as a consultant to Doc during these playoffs?
I wouldn’t be surprised if Flip planted the seed of putting a bigman on LBJ.
Doc adapted to the match-ups well, he just stayed with it too long.
In the end, it may have been their head coach that did ‘The Big Four’ in…not old, tired legs.
As Lebron embraced Rivers following Game 7, I couldn’t help but wonder if LBJ told coach: you can’t guard me with a ‘big’, just ask yo’ boy Flip.
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