It was mostly serene as the Miami Heat filed off the court and into the locker room following a stunning loss in Game 5 on Tuesday night. So quiet, that exhortations of "good job, good effort" could be heard from one young Heat fan, following the 94-90 loss that took them from two games up on the Boston Celtics to one game away from elimination.
Good job, good effort.
Looking at the numbers that would seem to describe Heat start LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who combined for 57 points. Unfortunately, no body else on the Heat could muster more than nine.
Effort aside, the Heat scoring dried up when it mattered most, which was not the case for Boston, whose effort won the game. Says Peninsula Is Mightier, SB Nation's Heat blog:
Without a veteran point guard to backup Chalmers and assist Wade and LeBron with some playmaking, the Heat offense went cold through several minutes to close out the second, third and fourth quarters and in the process badly destroying any momentum and hopes of a fluid stretch of offense to build up a strong lead that could have also fired up the home crowd. But time and time again it was the Celtics defense that came through on multiple stops, as well as employing an effective zone defense that forced the Heat into a jump shooting team instead of the slashing, dynamic offense they had when they overcame the Pacers.
With Game 6 back in Boston on Thursday night, the Heat will need to double down on the effort, this time with more results to show for it.
It's not over by a long shot but the Heat must count on the Big 3 individually to have brilliant games and for the supporting players to step up to give them badly needed support. Their defense still hasn't been able to contain Garnett in the paint and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen don't look as hobbled as they did to start the series.
With each loss, the more pressure is placed on the team from all angles. Thursday night now represents a chance to redeem themselves in order to earn the opportunity to fight another day and make it to the Finals.
Game 6 takes place Thursday night in Boston at 8:30 p.m.
Stick with this StoryStream for news and updates throughout the Eastern Conference Finals. For more analysis and discussion on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. Visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston for the opponent's perspective during the series. For all your Conference Finals analysis, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.