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Are Heat-Celtics becoming a matter of foul or fair?  – Denver Post

Q: So the NBA wants Boston and Golden State to make the NBA Finals, but do they have to make it so obvious? The Heat played terribly, but it’s physically impossible to close a deficit when the game is labeled as so one-sided. No way to establish any rhythm. Additionally, the integrity of the game is called into question when Stephen A. Smith declares, “The Celtics will get all the calls tonight,” on the pre-game show. Erik Spoelstra has to take a page from Pat Riley’s book and call them. To hell with this fine. – Steven, Bay Cutler.

A: First of all, thank you for this submission, because it allows me to address the double pet peeves. First of all, when you’re down 18-1 and can’t shoot, it’s not on the referees, or when you’re just jumpers. Jimmy Butler was right about that. Second, Stephen A. Smith is a wonderful artist, but he is neither an analyst nor a journalist. So he says whatever is timely enough to attract attention. His carnival barking has nothing to do with the game, just the entertainment aspect. The Heat reach the foul line in attack mode, both Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. That was not the case Monday night at TD Garden. Hence the absence of whistles. And, yes, Celtics-Warriors would definitely be the most marketable series for the NBA. But that’s not stopping the Heat from making shots. They missed. They lost. They advance. All the while, carnival barkers are trying to get someone to look in their direction.

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Q: Ira, we’re tied 2-2 in this series at home. Why do we feel like we’re down from 3.5 to zero? (Hey, at least we won a quarter! For those who count this stuff…) – Phillip, San Francisco.

A: Because the losses have been devastating and the victories exhilarating. Such is the reality of the stakes when reaching this level of the playoffs. The key is to band together, shake off, and hopefully get healthier. And, yes, amid the endless talk of quarters won in this series, the Heat not only “won” Monday’s fourth quarter 30-26, they tied the third 19-19, which means they also “won” the second half. I believe that these two trophies will be presented just before the first game on Wednesday evening.

Q: Throughout the year we have heard how deep the heat is. Outside of garbage time, the Celtics have largely dominated the Heat’s bench. It’s time to stop talking about awards won or lost and shut up or shut up. – Joel, Fort Lauderdale.

A: Actually, it’s exactly time to start talking about the awards won, since it was Tyler Herro who won the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Ultimately, he might turn out to be the swing vote of this series (as he kinda was when the Heat defeated the Celtics in the 2020 Eastern Finals). He needs at least one big game. And that means he must be healthy.


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