Miami is making me lose faith in the universe — and the Boston Celtics

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals was a classic Miami win, but it made me think about some really big Boston Celtics questions, and I don't like it (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals was a classic Miami win, but it made me think about some really big Boston Celtics questions, and I don't like it (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

On Monday, I wrote that Jayson Tatum forced me to believe in the Boston Celtics. And on Wednesday, I wrote my mock prediction of how the Miami Heat can win games during this Eastern Conference Finals despite a wildly less talented roster, which is exactly what happened.

And today I’m writing about how the Heat have somehow revolutionized winning NBA playoffs games through the most maddening witchcraft imaginable. Woohoo.

I’m hardly surprised, not confused whatsoever, and not even really that angry, since that was maybe the most predictable loss in NBA Playoff history. A solid first half was inevitable, since before anyone gets settled, the better players generally…play better. Good energy, solid shooting, and nice aggressiveness overall.

But then a rare condition began spreading through the Celtics roster, known academically as M.H.I.S.S (Miami-Heat-Induced-Shell-Shock), and colloquially as playing as though one has never been in a big game in one’s life, despite literally playing in a Game 7 three days earlier.

These playoffs, both the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks have already succumbed to severe cases of M.H.I.S.S, who were understandably confused and discombobulated about how a roster of undrafted role players and cast-offs can shoot 51% from deep and score 45 entire points in one quarter of NBA basketball like they did last night.

The nine-point first-half lead was eaten for breakfast. Suddenly down by 12 entering the fourth quarter, the Celtics’ upper hand was now six feet underground in the hole the Heat kindly dug for them, but that’s hardly an insurmountable lead to come back from—especially since the C’s have eight of the top-10 players in this series—right? …Right guys?

It certainly shouldn’t be insurmountable, but the Heat do not operate in the realm of what should and should not be possible. In fact, I am starting to think that Pat Riley can bend spacetime to force 3-point shots to go in and that Jimmy Butler can teleport considering how many passing lanes he jumps. Actually, this whole basketball team might be a referendum on the rule of logic and the laws of physics in the universe, and I might be losing my mind.

The Boston Celtics mailed in a completely pedestrian second half after an electric first two quarters, and Tatum put together another I-have-no-idea-how-he-has-30-points game, complete with a trademark 1000-yard stare and two game-killing travels within the last three minutes. After scoring 51 points on this exact same parquet floor three days ago, he was completely Jedi Mind Tricked, suddenly afraid to shoot the basketball.

Boston Celtics fans should feel deja vu after Eastern Conference Finals Game 1

If you’ve been reading this and are sure that this all reminds you of something, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, you’re right. Because this exact same game happened in Game 1 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, complete with a solid first half, an insane Butler performance, the Boston Celtics getting outscored by 20+ in the 3rd quarter, and a shell-shocked Tatum. It might be worth investigating if the Heat are not actually spacetime-bending wizards, but rather killer basketball robots capable of reproducing an identical game exactly one year later.

Because for two full years now, the Heat have made their money by keeping everything exactly at arm’s length. You can never bury them completely, but once they take the lead, trying to counter-comeback is next to impossible. This is something the M.H.I.S.S afflicted Bucks found out in Game 5, when, despite leading by around eight points for what felt like the entire game, the Heat executed an all-time great lurk-job before going into goblin mode.

Somehow finding the motivation to hang around for 3.5 quarters while still up 3-1 in the series, Butler capped off his masterpiece of a series with maybe the most insane game-tying shot I have ever seen. Once they went up in overtime, they once again kept the Bucks at arm’s length, except the other way around. The whole thing was awesome, but also completely messed up. How did the Bucks lose that game? Sure, we can say that the Heat “kept it at arm’s length,” but how on Earth are they able to do that over, and over, and over again?

Some teams have identities, but the 2023 Miami Heat sucked, and that was with Tyler Herro playing. Then he broke his hand in the first game of the playoffs, something that should in theory be a massive blow. Perhaps the Heat are not spacetime-bending wizards or killer basketball robots. Maybe they are just a Sea Cucumber, capable of regrowing limbs.

All of this begs some serious questions about the NBA, basketball more broadly, metaphysics, actual physics, and why we even exist if the Heat are just going to defy logical understanding every single year.

Ironically, the only team able to beat the Heat in the postseason was the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in game, proving that they do their damage over a series, and are thus susceptible to losing single games like they did in Game 7 last year.

And fortunately for TNT’s ratings and unfortunately for my mental health, this series could easily take seven games to wrap up. That would give the Boston Celtics the single game they need, but also lead to an endlessly terrifying showdown with the stone-coldest-blooded killer in the NBA in Butler.

But maybe that’s the Celtics’ only chance of defeating this spacetime-bending, limb-regrowing, history-repeating killer-basketball robot-wizard Sea Cucumber.

Who even knows at this point?