Stories usually don’t end well
Celtics big pain to this Big Three
MIAMI — You can go down Miami’s roster and find a handful of Celtics horror stories.
Dwyane Wade lost to the Celtics in the first round last season — his shining moment was a 46-point blowup in a Game 4 win with his mother in the front row — and promised he’d never lose in the first round again.
LeBron James emptied out 45 points in Game 7 of a second-round series against the Celtics two years ago and still lost. He ran into the brick wall again last season, walking out of TD Garden after Cleveland’s Game 6 loss with a career-defining decision — whether to leave the Cavaliers — looming over him.
Chris Bosh never lost to the Celtics in the postseason, but he saw them four times a year as a division rival, loathing every game.
“We don’t like them,’’ Wade said.
“There are a lot story lines in our locker room,’’ said coach Erik Spoelstra. “They’ve inflicted some pain on quite a few of us.’’
The Celtics are a symbolic block for the Heat. In a lot of ways, they’re the same obstacle that the Pistons presented Wade and James on the way to their only NBA Finals appearances.
Wade had to beat the Pistons in the 2006 Eastern Conference finals before leading the Heat rally from two games down to beat Dallas in the Finals. James did then same in 2007, but his Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs in the Finals.
“For both of us, it took us a while to get through Detroit, and once we did it was the end of that reign for those guys,’’ James said. “That team that they had, they started to trade and get rid of those guys. It was a tough mountain for the both of us to climb to get past Detroit, but once we did it was confidence we could beat anybody. It’s definitely similarities.’’
Head games Bosh was asked if Kevin Garnett tries to get in opponents’ heads and if his approach bordered on dirty play.
“That’s what it seems like,’’ Bosh said. “Somebody only does something if you let them. I think a lot of people come in right off the bat in the game and they’re already thinking about it. I don’t worry about it too much. If that is somebody’s goal, that’s their goal. You can’t let somebody else dictate what you do in a game.’’
Bosh then added that Garnett wasn’t the only player who tried to get people off their game.
“You’re going to face that in the league, period,’’ he said. “Some people, that motivates them if you talk to them. That’s what they’ve been looking for the whole time. They want that rise out of you and it gets you thinking about something else. And if you’re thinking about something else, then they’ve done their job.’’
Nothing changes The Heat say their game plan won’t change dramatically if the Shaquille O’Neal suits up for the Celtics.
“Certainly Shaq gives them another dimension, another big body under the rim, and puts a lot of pressure on you on offensive rebounding and posting up and being available for dishes,’’ Spoelstra said.
O’Neal has been sidelined since Feb. 1 with a strained right calf. His only action was five minutes April 3 against Detroit.
He has been working to return, but hasn’t practiced with the team. Doc Rivers said yesterday he hasn’t ruled him out of either of the first two games of the series.
“[Shaq] has six fouls,’’ Wade said. “He clogs the paint. He’s a big body. So, of course, it’s a positive for them if he can play as [close] to full strength as possible.’’
Taking it slow Udonis Haslem returned to practice Tuesday, shot around Wednesday, and practiced again yesterday, but Spoelstra isn’t ready to say Haslem will return for this series.
“We’re going to take it slow,’’ Spoelstra said. “I’ll tell you what we’re not going to do. Because the series is starting [tomorrow], that’s not going to influence our decision. If we don’t feel that he’s ready to really contribute or healthy enough, then we’ll go on a different timetable. We’re all eager, but we’re all also patient.’’
Haslem, however, feels healthy enough to play.
“Right now, I want to be out there, period, point-blank,’’ Haslem said. “It’s not my decision anymore. I’m going to continue to chip away, continue to practice hard, continue to work at it, continue to try to show the coaches that I’m ready to contribute something.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.