I wish I could take 24 free throws.
If you had told me before the game that Rajon Rondo would score 44 points and the Celtics as a team would score 111 (overtime or not, that's impressive for this group), you would not have had great success telling me that they ended up losing. Then again, if you had told me that LeBron would get to the line 24 times to the Celtics 29, that would have made the outcome more believable.
As much as I hate talking about it, the officiating was part of the story last night. Obviously there were a number of reasons why the Heat were able to get calls. They attacked the lane. The Celtics did their fair share of reaching, grabbing and bumping, as they always do. The Heat are athletic enough to force the issue. And superstar calls or not, James and Wade know how to initiate and create contact.
With all of that said, the discrepancy in the number of calls was stark and yes, the officials blew a few big calls down the stretch.
In my not-so-humble opinion, it is folly to think that any great conspiracy is be-felling the Celtics. But it is fair to put the officials competency under the microscope. They are human and they have good games and bad games. I'd argue that many a Celtic victory was aided by refs giving our defense a good deal of leeway by letting them grab and pull and shove their way to stops (not to mention the classic moving screens that are usually not called). Tonight, it didn't go the Celtics way, however, and so we have a comments section filled with fans complaining about the refs.
All of which is a terrible, horrible shame from my perspective because it takes so much of the attention off the incredible performance that Rondo put on. The last 2 three pointers he hit were almost symbolic of his night. They were totally unexpected, out of his normal style of play, and they were just too little too late. 44 points was not good enough last night.
It wasn't just Rondo either. Pierce, Allen, and Garnett all played about as well as you'd expect (with their point totals at about their average - which is impressive considering the amount of shots Rondo took). As a team they played their hearts out. It seemed like they took the best shots from the Heat and kept on coming back. They simply could not beat LeBron and Wade and the parade to the free throw line.