How tantalizing are the possibilities in the matchup of The Big Threes, otherwise known as the Miami Heat vs. the Boston Celtics in the semifinal round of the NBA Playoffs commencing Sunday? Consider the specter of seven all-stars and arguably just as many future Hall of Famers competing man-a-mano has rendered even the likes of former NBA legend and current TNT hype-man Charles Barkley reticent.
Well… somewhat. “No other words, just a great series on tap,” salivated Sir Charles after the Heat dispatched of Philadelphia in five games, earning the franchise its first playoff round triumph since ‘06.
“But you know the thing that’s frustrating about Miami... they don’t play with any sense of urgency,” adds Barkley. "I don’t think the things they’ve shown in the last five games show they can beat Boston. At some point, you’ve got to have ‘that dude.’ You have to have that dude where you can say, ‘Hey, here’s the ball, I need a basket.’”
Imagine that, of all the envisioned and predicted scenarios bandied about in the wake of LeBron James “taking his talents to South Beach” to team with fellow superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who would have conceived of such a development?
Still, one man’s hell can be another's paradise, and Wade, for one, sees matters drastically different from his one-time Fav Five partner in hysterics.
“I feel that we got better since game one of the regular season,” says Wade. “We’re going to continue to get better. We’re looking forward to playing Boston on our home floor. We’ll be prepared and ready, that team [the 76ers] got us ready for the next round. We thank them as we get ready for Boston.”
After dropping their first three games against Boston this season by a combined 15-points, Wade and company may be further buoyed by a 23-point beatdown they handed the C’s three weeks ago during which he and James teamed for 41 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
“It’s personal,”admits James. “You don’t want to keep getting beat by the same team; the same team sending you home to plan vacations.” Beyond that, James has the added incentive of having been labeled a quitter by Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert last season after the Cavs were eliminated by Boston in six games despite having the league’s best record. “That’s corny,” James says of Gilbert’s digs. “I don’t understand that type of stuff.” Beginning with this showdown series, a lot of things should become distinctively clearer.