In the end, Miami only needed a timely three point shot from Mike Miller, but he missed, and the Celtics barely managed to take home a game they looked like they won in the third quarter.
Rajon Rondo led the way in the second half and finished the game with a triple double, while LeBron James did pretty much everything in his power to keep Miami in this after they blew a halftime lead, but in the end the Celtics' defense was just too much, despite Paul Pierce turning in a 0-10 performance from the field.
Miami came out strong early, and managed to push ahead to a five point lead after the first, but the Celtics didn't let it get out of hand, and managed to keep the lead to four heading into the half.
After the half, the story was all Rondo, as the Celtics versatile point guard drove his team to score 35 points in the third quarter (the Celtics only scored 39 points in the entire first half), and from there Miami never took back the lead, despite limiting the Celtics to only 11 4th quarter points.
Quarter By Quarter Thoughts after the break.
The Celtics' limited lineup options are clear pretty early, and it is resulting in LeBron James just dictating the game. Pierce isn't getting the help that he needs, and LeBron is able to get to wherever he wants, and make whatever passes he wants.
Big Z can still hit a shot from range. He's not playing good defense, he's not playing particularly versatile offense, but he can hit a jumper.
Celtics are being aggressive, but the jumpers just aren't falling. Celtics end 1st down 5 points.
Boston's defense is much more active, and their play just seems more lively. They rack up 5 forced turnovers on Miami in the first 4 minutes, and take back the lead around 8:30 for the first time since the Celtics were up 2-0 to start the contest.
Dwyane Wade is just not coming through as the primary ball handler for Miami. The difference between a LeBron-led Heat and A Wade-led heat are startling...at least today.
Glen Davis is playing really really well for the Celtics, and is a fundamental reason why Boston is still in the game (15 mins, 8 pts in the first half), but most people are going to remember the missed dunk.
LeBron James comes in and gets Miami back on track, Miami ends half up 4.
Rondo starts half attacking early, he draws 2 fouls, makes 1 layup, 2 FT's, and assists 1 basket, and passes into another opportunity that draws a foul, plus he extends a loose ball opportunity to turn a broken play by Miami into a 24 second violation and Boston ball..and he does all this in the first 2 minutes. Boston up 46-43 with 9:30 left.
Maybe the most comical thing you'll see in this game, Rondo tries to full court pressure LeBron James, and James eventually gets the ball in the paint. Rondo is guarding him without help for a good 3 seconds and it is like watching a 10 year old kid guard his high school senior older brother. Any older brothers out there know what I'm talking about...where you just let the kid push you as hard as he could just to prove he couldn't move you? That's what this was like.
Rondo's full court press experiment sets into motion what will probably be the best sequence all game. Zydrunas Ilgauskus sets a hard but legal screen on Rondo at around half-court, laying him out. On the next play down, KG sets a harder screen (where to be honest he kinda leaned into him a bit) on Mike Miller, laying out Miller. Ray Allen's shot goes up, and Wade throws a hard shoulder into Garnett, while Allen's shot goes through the hoop. Undeserved (IMO) Flagrant 1 called on Wade, 2 FT's from Garnett..and all because of Big Z's hard pick on Rondo, the Celtics go on a 8-0 run.
Paul Pierce is quietly having a terrible shooting game. He's 0-8 from the field, but the reason why Boston fans love him is that despite his awful scoring today, he's got 5 boards and 3 assists. Pierce's shot will start falling at some point, but even when its not falling he's still the guy that most consistently drives the team.
If Paul Pierce is struggling, Glen Davis is just out there having fun. Miami just can't stop Glen Davis; they've thrown James Jones, Joel Anthony, Big Z, and even Chris Bosh at him, but Glen Davis's quickness and strength are just a terrible matchup for everyone on Miami's roster.
Rondo (I know, again) absolutely just set the pace here in the 3rd. Rondo drew Miami into committing 4 fouls, grabbed 5 boards, had 3 assists, made 2 more passes that resulted in shooting fouls, and personally scored 9 points. But, the most important thing Rondo did was guard LeBron James up and down the court. While around the basket LeBron is a nightmare for Rondo, when he's handling the ball behind the 3pt line, Rondo is a nightmare for James, and James hasn't really looked comfortable.
Boston up 11 to end the third.
If you thought that Von Wafer was going to be waived when Delonte West gets back, you're wrong. His offense is not an every night occurrence yet, but it seems like the more the season draws on the more often we see Wafer doing something good out there with the second unit. Maybe by the playoffs he'll be a real option as a heavy rotation player.
Obviously this Boston crowd hates LeBron James, but they really hate Chris Bosh too. I don't have a degree in rocket appliance or anything but it almost sounds like the boos for Bosh are louder than the boos for James. Predictably LeBron James will take a mental note about this and make sure he gets his hate levels back up to appropriate heights in Boston by playoff time.
After some Celtics misses and some Heat makes (no major defensive mistakes or anything I thought), the Celtics are only up 4 with 5 mins left. The most obvious culprit I would say is that Boston stopped pushing the ball, and started settling for low % shots, while Miami stayed aggressive.
Boston is also becoming frustrated with the officiating, and it seems like every call is getting a roll of the eyes or growl. Honestly rather than ref conspiracies, I'm blaming lazy defense. What should be tough contested shots (but not fouls) are turning into fouls committed by guys out of position to make a legal play. Boston is maintaining the 4pt lead through 2 mins left.
The Celtics looked to be letting this game slip away as the final minute ticked down. Rajon Rondo put up a 10 ft jumpshot (he was left completely alone), and missed, Miami had 20 seconds left, down 2. But Pierce was still contributing even if he was (to that point) 0-10 from the field. LeBron heads to the hoop for the tie, or even the win but Pierce gives LeBron a hard foul, preventing the and-1, and LeBron misses the first, but makes the second. 2 huge FT's from Glen Davis later, and its all over.