My favorite moment from last night's game would had to have been the three-pointer Keyon Dooling hit with about two minutes left. Ray Allen started a fast break, then whipped the ball the Dooling in the corner, who promptly chucked the ball up and walked backward like he felt the ball was on a b-line for the shotclock. It was three of Dooling's eighteen, and it brought the Celtics to within three of the Heat. This was as close as they were going to get, and Keyon Dooling would have no more shining moments (except for his ending the game at +12, +11 higher than anyone else on the Celtics, which is weird in its own right). It was a great moment, but immediately became overshadowed once Miami's Norris Cole became possessed. Instances and sequences like these left me confused after the game, as last night's Miami-Boston game seemed to be no more than a display of bi-polar tendencies from both teams.I say this for a few reasons, but they all narrow down to the fact that you can take away both good and bad from both Miami and Boston. Look at how Boston played in the first half, where turnovers became a bubonic plague on any efforts to move forward. Every player but Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass were responsible for handing the ball away, and it seemed like certain players had reverted to playing the same style of basketball they did in third grade. For the record, Marquis Daniels has the ballhandling skills of someone trying to dribble a football.
The Celtics had nine second half turnovers -- only two less than the first half -- but these were isolated to Rondo who had four. He's the point guard, so that is somewhat bound to happen although that number should not be as high. The Celtics were down 15 at the half, and ended the game down 8. If you watched the game, that 15 felt like 30 and that 8 felt like 15. The first half deficit would have undoubtedly been larger, if not for every one-legged Ray Allen three-pointer that somehow went in (there were four).
I am not sure what that means, the deficit seeming larger than it was. On one hand, it maybe means the Celtics lucked out on a few possessions that made them miraculously stay in the game. On the other hand, it shows that the Heat have trouble putting away teams when they appear to be at their very worst (and the Celtics did seem to be this at times -- remember the first half consecutive possessions where Rajon Rondo airballed a layup, then on the next series, Sasha Pavlovic traveled? This was utterly humiliating and I was watching the game at home with a stack of Doritos on my chest).
I am not sure that having Paul Pierce would have made a difference last night, due to the Heat winning the game basically because of how well their transition game was in the first half. Paul, with him being older and what not, probably would have been unable to stop it. He may have been able to make a shot occasionally, but Celtics fans shouldn't act like he would have been the antidote. The way Rondo has been playing has made up for Pierce's absence, as he has been taking more shots than usual in response. Can you ever remember a two-game stretch where Rondo scored more than fifty combined points?
There is a lot of cynicism in the Celtics fan base about "crowning" the Heat, but you have to give credit where it is due. In the first half, their transition game looked terrifying, and following that Wade lob to James midway through the third quarter, I was ready to write a post entitled "THE MIAMI HEAT: HOLY EVERYTHING I AM SO SCARED RIGHT NOW". After that amazing play, in which Wade threw the ball behind his head to a leaping James, Doc began experimenting with a zone defense, which for some reason stifled the Heat. They shot less than 30% against the zone, and the only Heat player who could figure it out was freaking Norris Cole.
So far, the Heat have used the strategy of dominating the first three quarters, then falling apart in the fourth, but building a large enough buffer zone to get a win. It's a peculiar strategy, and the Heat have been good enough to pull it off against two quality teams. The way the Celtics were able to make it into a game makes me feel somewhat good, as they were playing without their second best player and looked sluggish and oh my did Sasha Pavlovic just enter the game again?
Remember what I said earlier about not being sure what to take away from the game? I still don't know. The Celtics looked horrible at some points last night, and others appeared to be a totally cohesive unit led by the miraculously improved jump shot of Rajon Rondo (look at him make a three!). The Heat looked completely dominating at some points, and then had to rely on freaking Norris Cole to maintain a dwindling lead. The Janus-faced qualities of both teams is why I love that Keyon Dooling shot so much. That shot brought the game to within three, where it probably should have never been to begin with. It simultaneously proclaimed all that was right and wrong with both teams (Celtics: "We're coming back!" and "We don't deserve to be here". Heat: "We're winning!" and "We really blew that one"). The Heat and Celtics records are reciprocals of each other, but judging from how they played last night and looking at what's to come, both will likely be in the middle of any playoff race. Or I could be completely wrong.