1. Open up Microsoft Word, or whatever word-processing program you prefer.
2. Ramp up the font size to about 240-point or so.
3. Type an asterisk.
4. Print the page.
Got it? Good. Now, whenever you hear or read anything about the Miami Heat’s 10-game losing streak in Boston, tape that page to your TV, computer, newspaper or anywhere else someone cites that completely meaningless statistic. As far as misleading factoids go, this one should come with more asterisks, footnotes, addenda and secondary notations than the last eight years of Barry Bonds‘ career.
Yes, the Celtics have beaten the Heat 10 straight times in the regular season at TD Garden, where the Celtics host Miami on Monday. If the Celtics should come out with another win — which is entirely possible, particularly given the way the Celtics beat the Heat at home without Rajon Rondo last month — then Boston will continue to be called LeBron James‘ bugaboo, the place where the greatest player in the game curiously loses much of his greatness. If you doubt that the outcome of this game will be the lead debate topic on ESPN First Take on Tuesday morning, then you give obnoxious blowhards too much credit.
It is all kind of weird. Usually, 45-point, 15-rebound performances in the playoffs attract more credit than this. When bringing up the 10-game losing streak, it is customary to mention that the Heat have beaten the Celtics in Boston, and it happened a scant 10 months ago. As you may recall, James sort of had 45 points and 15 rebounds in his reputation-saving Game 6 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. This little tidbit is almost treated as an aside, as though that is only marginally relevant to the conversation. But it is not just relevant. It is the entire point of why this matchup is such a big deal.
Regular season or playoffs, James’ mammoth game last June proved that he is capable of killing the Celtics on a massive stage. That is the key to Monday’s game. Should the Celtics claim a victory, it would not be in spite of this fact, but because of it that their win would be so impressive. The Celtics would not merely be bullying around an opponent that is mentally defeated the moment it steps on the parquet. They would be outplaying a worthy adversary who, as the Heat’s current 22-game win streak suggests, is playing pretty well right now. In a funny way, all the talk about the Celtics’ 10-game winning streak over the Heat in Boston takes away some credit from what the Celtics have been able to accomplish against the Heatles in the last three years.
Oh, and that 10-game streak also includes five wins that occurred while James was still in Cleveland and the Heat were first-round playoff fodder or worse.
So, yeah. Keep that asterisk ready.
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