Tuesday night was a big night for me. NBA Season has officially started and the league did the thing right, didn’t they? Boston-Miami to kick it off, to finally put an end to all of the hoop-la. The stage was set perfectly. In the weeks leading up to this shining moment in NBA history, NBA.com did a series of short videos on each of the teams, documenting the meteoric rise of Boston’s Big Three, focusing on the sacrifice they all made, culminating in words of warning from Jesus Shuttlesworth: “Don’t come into (the season) expecting to be the same player you were before”. And NBA.com documented the path of Miami’s new Big Three. In the videos Miami’s threesome spoke of their excitement, their willingness to sacrifice, their understanding of the unique situation they were in and the delicate chemistry they would have to balance.
This game was to be a passing of the torch, so to speak. Miami would go in and make a statement early in the season. At least that was the thought. That’s the angle. Boston’s triumph was an amazing one. It started the NBA’s current climb back to grace and Miami is supposed to finish it. Game 1 of a long NBA season was supposed to be the first step on that journey.
And then the lights went down, the curtains opened and the show started. One team came out firing on all cylinders. They jumped on the opportunity and didn’t seem ready or willing to let up at any point. The other team pushed back at points, with one of its Big Three taking the bulk of the burden on his broad shoulders, a burden he travelled all the way to South Beach to shed.
Boston showed that it understood that winning takes more than three. It takes a scrappy point guard, a coach with a plan, big men willing to do the dirty work. Miami? Not so much. Rondo shredded Miami’s defense. Doc Rivers presented a well-coached team with an understanding of what chemistry actually means. Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Shaq all showed up and played hard because they understand that they have to perform to win.
Miami, for all of their preseason posturing looked like a team that was already resting on its laurels. They expected to coast. They showed no understanding of their personnel (Chris Bosh isolations in the low post? #cmonson). They had no plan. Having Wade, Bosh and James on the same team doesn’t mean anything if LeBron is driving and dishing to Eddie House.
For this chemistry experiment to work, they have to understand that you need more than Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to win. You need them to play together. You need them to commit to a common goal. Boston’s aim in 2008 was a title, yes but they understood that to win they had to commit to each other and they had to commit defensively.
If Tuesday’s game was supposed to be a changing of the guard, it failed. Boston showed the grit and toughness that has them consistently at the top of the standings and gave the new-look Miami Heat a lesson in chemistry.