The Miami Heat won 58 games this season — a figure the Knicks have reached once in the last 40 years — and their regular season still felt like a failure. LeBron James’ “Decision” was an act perceived as so self-aggrandizing that the only reasonable way for the Heat to follow it up was not to lose a single game. It got to the point that, after Heat losses, the coaches and players would almost apologize, as if they were beaten down by all the derision tossed in their direction. We all just wanted them to fail so bad that we convinced ourselves they already had. But man, they didn’t.
The Heat eliminated the Celtics, the team that swept the Knicks a couple of weeks ago, if you remember, with a final-three-minutes explosion from LeBron last night. It was such a spontaneous occurrence that you can watch the whole thing in a nice short quick Web clip:
Heavens. Part of the hope for the Celtics (and the Lakers, for that matter) was that maybe they could sneak out a title this year before the Heat figured out their chemistry issues or even upgraded their roster in the coming years. Both those teams are now gone, and the Heat suddenly look terrifying.
The Bulls have a chance to finish off the Hawks tonight, but as excited as the NBA universe was about Chicago’s regular season, their playoff showing so far hasn’t exactly inspired much confidence that they can slow this freight train. Is there anyone left who can? Dallas? Memphis? Oklahoma City? The Heat look like they’re finally turning into the team we all desperately feared they would become. They’re doing it at the exact wrong time. If you didn’t like watching the Heat celebrate like madmen last night — LeBron finally vanquishing the green menace — we have a fear that you’re going to hate basketball over the next three weeks.