The Boston Celtics led the Miami Heat to the cliff from Midsommar last night, complete with a big mallet to finish the job. It was as thorough of a butt-kicking as you'll ever see in the NBA right from the jump. A deadlocked series returns to South Beach and there's no use lamenting the lopsided loss with such dramatic urgency required. Still, it might be worth considering how miserable of an experience it must have been for Heat fans from the very get-go.
And I'm not just talking about the Celtics racing out to a 18-1 lead. Or the visitors bricking 14 consecutive shots and having all of four points combined nine minutes into play. No, the unpleasantness started before all that as ESPN's NBA Countdown continued to get under the skin of those who worship at the temple of Pat Riley.
Here's Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon pre-game, assuring viewers at home that Boston would be getting all the calls and the Miami muck-up wasn't going to work. With the latter adding that bully ball is all that works for the Heat. And using the "C" word.
Ah, yes. This is just what this series between two teams most people cannot stomach rooting for needs. More complaining about calls and arguing over who has the deepest intestinal fortitude. I think I speak for all of us in saying that it's nice to have some light at the tunnel here. At most, we'll be subjected to three more games of this discourse and then can all move on to rooting for Stephen Curry in the Finals.
Miami was miserable last night and its fans couldn't have enjoyed the experience. Which is pretty much how all neutral parties feel with this matchup. I will say, it does seem like ESPN has been leaning a bit more toward a pro-Boston position in its coverage. Usually these claims about bias fall on deaf ears and ring hollow, but in this specific case, there may be some validity.
Also, one final thought here. What is wrong with winning by out-toughing an opponent? If it takes playing football to win a basketball game, then you play football. If you're better in space then you aim for a free-flowing game. Goon it up, flower it up, whatever it takes.
One could actually make the argument Miami can win in more ways than most teams due to incredible depth and versatility game to game and that Boston is reliant on Jayson Tatum to the point of being one-note. Again, these series needs to be over because I cannot stomach defending either of these franchises for much longer.