With 8:11 remaining in the 4th quarter the Celtics took an 84-71 lead on a Kevin Garnett jump shot in the lane. From that point on Miami outscored Boston 20-8. What the hell happened? Let's go possession by possession.
First Heat Offensive Possession - Ricky Davis drove to the hoop, used a nifty pump fake/up and under move and met James Posey in the air. The collision sent Davis to the line where he knocked down 1 of 2.
First Celtics Offensive Possession - On offense Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo played a three-man game that included Rondo setting a pick on Alonzo Mourning. As funny as that sounds it was effective and Garnett found Rondo for a lay up. Unfortunately Rondo missed it. Now as Fooch from Niner's Nation pointed out in the open game thread last night, Rondo is shooting 53% from the field this season. That's great. And he hit some big ones last night. Regardless that miss did loom large come crunch time.
Second Heat Offensive Possession - Ricky Davis dribbled around the three point line for about 6 seconds in the hopes of driving any basketball purists crazy. However, to his credit Davis found Mourning for a jump hook that cut the Celtics lead to 86-74.
Second Celtics Offensive Possession - The Celtics threw the ball to Garnett in the post. As soon as Udonis Haslem collapsed to join Mourning in a double team Garnett kicked it out to Posey for a wide open three that did not go down. There's no shame in that. Posey was 3-6 from downtown.
Third Heat Offensive Possession - Ricky Davis drove hard to the elbow, forcing Paul Pierce to retreat. Davis then pulled up and nailed a jumper, cutting the Celtics lead to ten.
Third Celtics Offensive Possession - After a few passes and cuts Ray Allen dribbled around the perimeter, Ricky Davis style, before driving into the lane. There Allen picked up his dribble and somehow pivoted his way around/through a Ricky Davis/Dwayne Wade double team for an open shot, which he missed.
Fourth Heat Offensive Possession - Shaq set a pick on Pierce for Wade. Wade then blew by Kendrick Perkins and Rondo for a lay up. Granted Shaq is massive and Wade is quick. But the defensive efforts of Perk, Pierce and Rondo were half hearted at best. Celtics 86, Heat 78.
Fourth Celtics Offensive Possession - Rondo worked his way to the hoop for an acrobatic lay up that Perkins touched while it was in the cylinder. It is unclear whether or not Rondo's shot would have gone down.
Fifth Heat Offensive Possession - Jason Williams found Shaq deep in the paint only to have the Diesel's shot attempt rejected by Perk. It was a nice defensive play and exciting to watch. At the same time it was like watching Super Man struggle with kryptonite. If it were Heat/Knicks I would have wanted Shaq to dunk on Eddy Curry, demoralizing him in the process. Shaq could then run down the court and stare at his hand.
Fifth Celtics Offensive Possession - Pierce dribbled around the elbow for a while, drew a double and kicked it to Rondo. Rondo then ran through Jason Williams for an offensive foul.
Sixth Heat Offensive Possession - Daequan Cook badly missed a Bruce Bowen style three pointer from the corner. Garnett grabbed the rebound.
Sixth Celtics Offensive Possession - Garnett set a pick for Ray Allen. Allen jumped to shoot but had to kick it to Pierce given the defensive pressure from Daequan Cook. Pierce then threw it back to Allen who missed a three with Cook's hand in his face. Overall it was a nice defensive effort from Cook.
Seventh Heat Offensive Possession - Ricky Davis pump faked from deep, drove to the hoop as Posey flew by and then fed Shaq for a dunk. However, as I watched this again I noticed that Pierce shoved Posey with two hands to the back in the direction of Davis. Ironically Davis was Pierce's man and Posey was only in the area because his man (Wade) had recently drifted into the vicinity.Celtics 86, Heat 80.
Seventh Celtics Offensive Possession - Pierce badly missed a fall away jumper.
Eighth Heat Offensive Possession - Posey failed in his attempt to draw a charge on Wade. The former Marquette stand out kicked it to Cook in the corner. Cook then drove to the hoop and hit an acrobatic lay up, despite pressure from Garnett. Celtics 86, Heat 82.
Eighth Celtics Offensive Possession - Garnett tried to feed Pierce deep in the lane and Davis knocked it away.
Ninth Heat Offensive Possession - Ricky Davis hit a pull up three in Pierce's face. He then trash talked like crazy. Celtics 86, Heat 85.
Ninth Celtics Offensive Possession - Shaq fouled Garnett as KG attempted to drive to the hoop. Undeterred by the whistle Garnett kept going and dunked despite Ricky Davis' attempt to block it. It was completely unnecessary by both players and trash talking ensued. At the time I said there was no way in hell the Celtics would lose the game. Although in hindsight the confrontation was insignificant. Bonus points to Wade for loudly clapping as things settled down.
As the Celtics passed the ball in Davis pushed Pierce, earning a foul in the process.
Shaq fronted KG, Pierce tried to throw it over the top, two other Heat defenders swarmed to the spot and Cook stole the errant pass.
Tenth Heat Offensive Possession - Wade raised Tommy Heionsohn's ire for palming the ball and getting away with it. He then almost had a lay up but kicked it out to Cook because of pressure. Cook made the questionable decision of feeding Shaq down around his ankles and Eddie House came away with it.
Tenth Celtics Offensive Possession - Garnett found Posey for an open three, which he missed.
Eleventh Heat Offensive Possession - Posey played Wade incredibly physically to the point that I was surprised there was no foul. Don't get me wrong, it was good defense. Stars usually get those calls. Regardless Wade fed Shaq and Garnett wisely sent the Diesel to the line. Shaq missed both but a lane violation gave him new life and he knocked down the second. Pierce was the guilty party on the lane violationTie game.
Eleventh Celtics Offensive Possession - Garnett freed Allen with a pick and the former UConn star drove to the hoop, was fouled and knocked down both free throws. Celtics 88, Heat 86.
Twelfth Heat Offensive Possession - Ricky Davis missed a three.
Twelfth Celtics Offensive Possession - Ray Allen drove into the lane, the defense collapsed and he kicked to Rondo in the corner, halfway between the paint and the three point line. Rondo knocked down a shot. Celtics 90, Heat 86.
Thirteenth Heat Offensive Possession - Wade drove and hit a lay up. It was a very Dwyane Wade play, which is a good thing. Even the Cooz admitted that Wade was tough. Celtics 90, Heat 88.
Thirteenth Celtics Offensive Possession/Fourteenth Heat Offensive Possession - Udonis Haslem trapped Ray Allen with Cook. Haslme came away with the ball and passed it to Cook on the break. Cook drove, dunked, earned a foul on Posey and missed the free throw. Celtics 90, Heat 90.
Fourteenth Celtics Offensive Possession - Pierce missed a shot.
Fifteenth Heat Offensive Possession - Garnett fouled Haslem who hit one of two. Heat 91, Celtics 90.
Fifteenth Celtics Offensive Possession - The Celtics looked to Pierce. He drove to the hoop, lifted Haslem with a pump fake and then hit the lay up. It was an excellent move by Pierce.Celtics 92, Heat 91.
Sixteenth Heat Offensive Possession - Posey defended Wade just inside the three point line, challenging Wade to shoot it. Wade dribbled down the clock, shot a possible game winner and watched Posey rebound his miss. Game. Celtics 92, Heat 91.
Wade shot 53% from the line and missed a possible game winner as time ran out. He's a career 77% foul shooter with a few game winners in his portfolio. On top of that that, the Heat shot 57.1% (16-28) from the line. Though they have some bad shooters from the charity stripe, Shaq comes to mind, the Heat aren't that bad. So the Celtics have to feel lucky. Although give the C's credit for knocking down their freebies. They were 94.4% (17-18) from the line.
Tommy Heinsohn and Bob Cousy were all over the Celtics for their sluggish offensive play down the stretch. Now if Posey knocks down one of his two wide open threes or Ray Allen and Rondo hit their lay ups it would have been an easier win. But that would not excuse the general malaise and one-on-one mentality the Celtics displayed on offense.
Nobody wanted to say it but Ricky Davis lit up Pierce. Yes Pierce hit the game winner but Davis took it to The Truth. The low point came when Pierce shoved Posey in the back to force him to defend Davis. Pierce then hung back and had a good view of Davis' drive and dish to Shaq for a dunk. And this is coming from a guy who recently wrote a post praising Pierce. He's better than that.
Overall Rondo did some great things last night. He finished with 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field, knocking down his only free throw in the process. Rondo also grabbed 7 boards, one of which was a highlight reel rebound. And he finished with ten assists. But as the fourth quarter wound down someone had to step up and right the offensive ship for the Celtics. And no one really did. That is not Rondo's fault. He is not the star. However, he is the point guard and his half court game still needs to improve. Let me stress that I am not blaming Rondo. If anything the Celtics defense was mediocre at best down the stretch. Just something to watch as the Celtics move forward.