The Pistons were to Michael Jordan as the Celtics are to LeBron James.
I can barely remember ever seeing a team play defense like the Celtics did. I can never remember seeing a team do that and lose.
LeBron James was playing fast and furious -- too fast at times, perhaps. When the Celtics had him struggling, with 48 seconds left in regulation he executed a jump stop, and then froze entirely. Just stopped, standing entirely still in the paint as the defense wobbled. He pounced, and scored, only after gathering his thoughts and executing a plan of attack.
The defining controversy of Boston's season was the Kendrick Perkins trade, which leaves the open question of who would be Boston's big man. Nenad Krstic? Shaquille O'Neal? Jeff Green? Glen Davis? And the winner is: Delonte West. Down the stretch of regulation, with the season on the line, Doc Rivers played his Big Four (Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett) with West, who was no small part of the Celtics' overwhelming defense. Jeff Green only came in when Rivers bailed on the injured Rondo for part of the overtime.
It's in the highlights above, if you look closely: I can't believe Chris Boshed LeBron in the James.
Paul Pierce tied the game at 86 with 41 seconds left in the fourth. Miami inbounded with a choice: Did they want two more possessions in this game, or just one? By going fast, they could have assured two, but they walked and -- despite turning the ball over on their sole possession -- won anyway. Lucky. With Boston out of timeouts, and with the Heat destined to take a tough shot no matter what, to me that was a classic example of a time to get a shot up quickly, thus denying Boston a chance to end a tie game with a shot in the air.
Making coaches everywhere proud, Dwyane Wade did a killer job of bulling his way to the rim against the Celtics' tough defense late. But he missed almost all of those. When he finally opted for the insanely difficult step-back 23-footer with Delonte West in his face -- a shot no high-school player should ever emulate -- it was entirely money, and a game-changer. Basketball's funny.
The Heat defense was stout, but a simple case of eighth-grade style butter fingers cost the Celtics this one. Lots of turnovers off fingertips.