Beyond the standings, though, the way they seem to be coming together has grabbed the league's attention. Already at the top of most of the defensive rankings because of their intensified focus, Tuesday the Celtics nailed 61 percent of their shots and 60 percent of their jump shots, all of it a product of ball and player movement that awed the Heat with its simplicity and execution.
The Heat found themselves going into timeouts shaking their heads. There was no lack of energy or focus this time, the flaw that has been a constant thorn in the second half of their season. For the most part, the Heat were playing really well. They just weren't good enough. Not a feeling they're used to and not a sensation they want against the Celtics, a team that they thought they'd buried after their second-round series victory last year.
"We left Boston feeling awful at our performance. I don't feel as bad tonight," said James, who had 36 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. "Not only did they make the open shots, but they made all the contested shots. They are the best jump-shooting team in the league. We tip our hat off."
Has LeBron James always been this indifferent? Maybe he's absorbed the nonchalant attitude of the Heat fans. I get his point about the hot-shooting Celtics, but if I was a Heat fan, I wouldn't want to hear that garbage.
The indifference is everywhere. Check out this blog post on Peninsula is Mightier. The blogger's recap is worthy of a preseason game. No admission that this was a big game or any anger directed at the Heat.