The Miami Heat are on the verge of an epic meltdown against the Boston Celtics. Go ahead. I give you permission to use the dreaded "C" word: collapse.
I'm sure, like me, you're waking up on Wednesday morning asking the same questions about this team. What happened? How did we get here? How did Miami let the Celtics win three in a row? And should we be surprised?
I'll go right down the list. This happened because the Celtics haven't given up and made the big shots. Boston made the proper adjustments after the first two games and hasn't looked back. Credit goes to all the veteran players that everyone, including me, called old after Miami's first two wins.
Also, Doc Rivers continues to prove why he's one of the best coaches in the NBA. With his team in a big hole, Rivers never panicked. He saw that his only chance on offense and defense was to use Boston's size advantage as the key to winning. His team hasn't looked back in dominating Miami the rest of the way.
But, with all that said, here's the funny thing about this series; we should have seen this coming.
I'll preface this by saying that I'm not one to lay all the blame on coaching. Erik Spoelstra is not the reason Miami has lost three straight games, but some of his moves should have opened our eyes to the Heat's shortcomings.
First of all, here we are in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Spoelstra doesn't have a firm rotation. Actually, forget the word firm. He doesn't even have a consistent rotation.
We started to see signs of this in the Pacers series. Yes, I know the loss of Chris Bosh threw a loop into the plan, but Miami was still having this problem late in the regular season.
Spoelstra started Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony at the center position in games three and four. Yet, those two players didn't even play a single minute in game five.
Norris Cole had been a non-factor for much of the late regular season and into the playoffs, yet he's been on the court for key stretches of the last couple of games. I give credit to Cole for making some plays when given the chance, but this team has just looked uncomfortable on both sides of the ball at key moments.
We've seen line-up's on the court in the last few games that literally had almost no playing time together during the regular season. Have you seen how comfortable the Celtics look playing together? They have a rotation set and all the players seem to know their roles.
Finally, Chris Bosh returned for game five and gave Miami a solid 11 minutes in the first half. How much did he play in the 2nd half? Less than four minutes and not a single minute in the deciding 4th quarter.
Spoelstra said he it wouldn't be fair to Bosh playing in pivotal 4th quarter minutes because he'd been out of action for so long. I don't buy or understand his explanation. The Celtics have one clear advantage in this series and that's size. Why in the world wouldn't you want your one productive big man on the court in crunch time? Especially when Miami had a six-point lead with six minutes left.
Again, this may sound like I'm blaming Spoelstra, and I know a lot of fans already are, but there is a bigger fundamental problem becoming obvious with this team. They were built for three star players to do it all with a group of mixed and matched players sprinkled in.
In theory, it works because those stars take control and win games. But, when one of those stars is hurt and another one isn't playing up to his usual standards, Dwyane Wade, you get this messy situation Miami is in.
It's becoming obvious this whole "Big Three" idea may not be so good after all. The Celtics have a nucleus of four star or former star players, but they also have great depth and guys who know their roles. They also have a coach who knows how to use those players in the right situations.
Where does this leave the Heat? Well, on the brink of disaster. I won't even begin to speculate what happens to Miami if they don't get out of these Eastern Conference Finals. I think you know where I'm going with this.
Miami has one last chance to prove they can overcome and win, despite their flaws. My advice to Erik Spoesltra would be to stick with what got you here. Forget about being fair to players and just put LeBron James, Wade and Bosh in the starting line-up. Use Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony to help on defense and rebounding and Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Mike Miller to hit some open shots. That's your rotation.
Pretty simple. Stop tinkering. Stop experimenting. Or start planning for a very long offseason.