BOSTON –– Dwyane Wade didn’t attempt a single free throw. LeBron James took only five. That’s five free throws combined for a twosome that shot 35 the previous game.
In the ongoing jostle to play to the officiating, ever so subtly, it’s now Miami’s turn.
“I played my (usual) game,” said Wade with a shrug. “It just wasn’t for me to get to the line tonight.”
James said: “We got 46 points in the paint. It’s not that we weren’t attacking. We’re attack players.”
Two days after Rajon Rondo was smacked in the face and never heard a whistle during a crucial moment in Game 2, the Heat saw their two stars suffer from a lack of calls for an entire game. It’s not that one or two or even a handful of moments were highly questionable in Game 3. No, for whatever reason, Wade and James just didn’t put themselves in position to get free throws.
For Wade to go an entire game without making a trip to the line is astonishing, given how often he zig-zags through the defense and the lane and reaches the rim. And then there’s James, getting only five trips. He missed four out of his five shots, which means James and Wade could only account for one point from the line.
Doc Rivers bit his tongue, and barely, after discussing the free throw disparity in Game 2 (47 to 29, advantage Heat), and the Heat wouldn’t touch the issue Friday, either. Only Erik Spoelstra came close: “We’ll be more aggressive and we’ll find ways to get to the rim and the free throw line the next game. We’re not getting into anything else.”
There will be trouble for Miami if this happens again. Because Miami is generally a jump-shooting team beyond Wade and James, the burden of getting to the line rests with them. And when they’re not drawing contract and hearing whistles, that means the Celtics aren’t in foul trouble. So it’s doubly damaging for Miami: no foul trouble and no additional source of scoring points.
What’s more unlikely to repeat itself: Rondo getting 44 points, as he did in Game 2, or Wade and James combining for one point from the line again?
“We’re attack players and we’ll continue to force the issue,” James said. “It starts with us.”