It looks like Miami has a different type of Heat now; a man named Norris Cole is bringing it. Don’t make the mistake of calling him a kid just because he’s a rookie. When he gets out on the floor he’s far from it. The Boston Celtics experience the Cole phenomenon on Tuesday night playing against the Miami Heat.
Both teams played on Christmas day. Boston faced the New York Knicks and blew a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter. They uncharacteristically allowed Carmelo Anthony to go off for 17 points in the fourth quarter and will his team to victory. Miami just came off of a victory in which they exercised a few demons from the finals. They destroyed the Dallas Mavericks 105 to 94 in a game where the score was much closer than the game actually was. Dallas was never in it from the jump; they were down by 30 at one point in the game.
The two teams met in Miami on Tuesday night. The Celtics were looking to prove that they were still a team to be reckoned with in the East; Miami wanted to show the world that they were the NBA’s ultimate team. They are looking to run every single team out of the building this year with their play and for much of the game it looked like they would be able to. The Celtics were playing comeback for most of the game; at one point Boston faced a 20 point deficit.
We all know how resilient this Celtics team can get though. You can never let them hang around because they’ll come back and bite you in the end. That’s exactly what they were doing. Going into the half the Heat had hung 69 point up on a usually defensively adept Boston Celtics squad. Late in the 3rd quarter though, the Celtics had given Miami a zone look. When they finally started to keep possession of the ball instead of playing what Doc Rivers likes to call “Hero Ball” the Celtics started to claw into the lead with a flurry of three-point shots. That seemed to be the only weapon that was working for the Celtics. Penetrating and kicking was key for them because their normal sets were resulting in turnovers against them.
Boston had started to stifle the Miami pace and space offense with their zone. They were creating turnovers coming into the half and the Heat seemed confused by it. Some of this, I believe, was Erik Spoelstra tinkering with the Miami Heat line up. It seemed like Spoe refused to keep the big three on the floor at the same time. For about five straight minutes he kept Howard, Battier, Cole, James, and Haslem on the floor. Their plus/minus had to be ugly as they were missing shots left and right. The Celtics were on a 10-1 run at that point and then the quarter ended.
At that point it Spoelstra had enough. He put in the Big Three along with a notable 4th man: Norris Cole. Cole, a rookie out of Cleveland State, had been making some iffy decisions to me this game. He put up some shots that he made, but if he had failed it would’ve been an extremely bad play. He missed some passes on penetration that could’ve resulted in open threes also. The refs bailed the Heat out with a few calls here and there that kept Boston out of the game. Most notably there was an offensive foul called on Brandon Bass drawn by Norris Cole with about 3 minutes left in the game. That would’ve put Boston down by six points and it may have been a different ball game. Rondo made the wrong play by not going at Cole but it still was not a charge. Doc Rivers was infuriated for most of the game.
Miami then kept an eight point lead in the game and then the Arena froze. Why? Norris Cole went to work. At this point in the game he had 14 4th quarter points. This is exactly where the Heat struggled for most of last season. Who would’ve thought that a widely unknown commodity like Cole would bail them out this time? Cole hits a three to put the Heat up 10 points but he wasn’t done yet. The wheels seemed to be coming off of the death machine of the NBA in Miami. Keyon Dooling had hit a three with about two minutes left in the game. He looks like a great pick up for Boston. Steve Kerr had stated that Lebron and Wade’s penetration was intended to get the ball into the hands of Cole and Haslem. I can understand Haslem, but not Cole. In his 2nd game in the NBA, Mr. Cole came in on National TV and showed us all who he is. He hits a two point shot to put the Heat up five but he wasn’t done yet. With the shot clock dying down with a minute left in the game, Cole steps into another jump shot and knocks it down. This put Miami back up five and was essentially the dagger to the game.
Miami won 115 to 107. Norris Cole finished with 12 points in the 4th quarter and we now all know what this guy is capable of. He even received MVP chants at the end of the game for his valiant effort. A bit much? I think so. The way he played was great and Miami has a lot to look forward to. Norris Cole has a lot of promise and he showed it last night.