Though coach Erik Spoelstra used Chris Bosh off the bench for a third consecutive game, the Heat, in the first half, continued to do its best work with Bosh and Udonis Haslem on the floor together.
When Bosh and Haslem started in tandem, the Heat was 7-2 this season, including 5-1 in the playoffs before Bosh sustained his abdominal strain injury. When they played together in Game 6, the Heat outscored the Celtics 35-19 in 12 minutes.
And in the first half of Game 7, the Heat outscored Boston 18-12 when Bosh and Haslem were paired together. The Heat was outscored by 13 the rest of the time.
Still, Spoelstra stuck with Shane Battier and Haslem as starters in Game 7 partly because he doesn’t like to change his starting lineup after a win.
And Bosh said before the game that he had no issue with coming off the bench. “It’s irrelevant,” he said. “As long as I get to play, it doesn’t matter. We have a good thing going right now. I will continue to come off the bench as long as it’s good.”
Dwyane Wade shot below 50 percent in the first half for a sixth consecutive game, going 3 for 8. He played better than previous first halves in this series, scoring nine points and dishing out five assists. But he also committed two turnovers, including a bad pass that Brandon Bass stole and converted into a dunk in transition.
Wade closed the series with just 44 first-half points on 15-for-54 shooting.
Wade said before Game 7 that because he’s facing so many double-teams, the Celtics are “taking me out of the game. So I’m trying to make as much of an impact as possible. I understand I have to affect the game other ways and wait for my opportunities to come. It’s not the easiest thing to do. A double-team doesn’t let you get good looks, and when you get looks, it gets you out of your rhythm. But I’ve got to stick with it, and that’s what I’ve done.
“I’ve had better second halves than first halves, and if I can pick one, I’ll pick the second half, instead of playing great in the first half and not good in the second one. They put a game plan together, and there’s no question the game plan is to make sure I don’t see a lot of opportunities.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who played for Heat president Pat Riley when Riley coached the Knicks, gave an interesting answer when asked if he sees any Riley in Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
“A lot,” Rivers said. “I don’t know about the game part of it. Spo does his own thing there. But definitely, the mental part of it, just listening to how he talks and prepares the team. That’s a Riley thing. His prints are all over that part.
“If you play for Riley or work around Riley, he’s going to be a part of you the rest of your life. That’s just how it is, even if you have no contact with him or you do. Riley was Riley for a reason. He gets inside of you. You can see that with Erik — Riley is inside of him.”LeBron James