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Game 3: Where The Celtics Got Back, Back To Where They Once Belonged

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Boston Celtics 97, Miami Heat 81

This was a game of too many stories. I'll try to recap a few of them before my head explodes in a giant Fan-gasm.

The biggest story by far is about Rajon Rondo. His stat line tonight was fairly pedestrian by his standards (6 pts, 11 asts, 5 TO's), but it had nothing to do with statistics.

The Celtics came out of the locker room down two at halftime, and they just started to go on a run. They were going to Kevin Garnett in the paint for buckets that he made look way too easy. They were making all the right passes, and the jumpshots were falling, and within 5 mins Boston went from being down 2 to being up 10.

Then, disaster seemed to strike. Rajon Rondo got tangled up (dragged down) with Dwyane Wade after poking the ball loose. To say Rondo landed awkwardly on his arm is like saying the Hindenburg had an 'awkward landing'. Really, a picture does it more justice (link). 

Rondo's arm bent at an angle that just made your heart stop as a fan. Right when the Celtics looked like they were going to take control of the game, it looked like Rondo, arguably the Celtics' best player, was going to be done for a while. Forget about the series, I'm talking like the rest of the playoffs, and into next season done.

The Celtics soldiered on though, led by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who combined to score 11 of Boston's final 12 points in the third quarter. But then, a vision of hope glimmered on the horizon. Rondo was back on the bench, and jogging up to the scorer's table like he was going to enter the game.

Rondo would have to wait until the 4th to get back in, but he did it. It was of those moments. Rondo was dragging his left arm up and down the court like it was an albatross around his neck, but he did it. The moment was brought to a climax when Rondo stole the ball from Chris Bosh (using his left arm) and sprinted down the court for a breakaway dunk. His play not only dictated the game, but it energized the team in a fashion we haven't seen yet during this Miami series. Just an amazing performance from Rondo, and an honor to be able to watch the game.

For the rest of the stories (and there are still a good 3-4 more) click on the jump. But, if you don't, just know it was a heck of a game.

Non-Rondo Story #1: Kevin Garnett found a time machine!

28 points, 18 rebounds, 14 3rd quarter points. That's what the stat line says, but it doesn't do Garnett justice. His jumpers were falling, and that was critical to his 13-20 shooting performance, but it was the way he scored the other buckets that was so encouraging. Repeatedly, Garnett took the ball into the post against whoever Miami had to throw at him and just made everyone look foolish. His post moves tonight were positively scrumptrulescent.

On top of that, Garnett completely shut down Chris Bosh tonight almost single handedly. Bosh ended the game with 6 points and 5 rebounds on 1-6 shooting, but realistically speaking, he didn't even play that well. It was like Chris Bosh wasn't even there tonight. Were it not for Rondo's performance tonight Garnett would be getting the game ball.

Non-Rondo Story #2: Jeff Green, Y'all!

Jeff Green's stat-line won't wow anyone (6pts, 2rbs, 1stl, 1blk), but I swear he played his butt off tonight. He made his bigger impact on defense than anything, and just obviously hustled like his life depended on it. His defense on LeBron James was one of the biggest stories nobody will talk about tonight.

Non-Rondo Story #3: The Bigger 3 Won

Bosh/James/Wade: 44 points, Pierce/Allen/Garnett: 70 points. That about says it right there. I crowed about Garnett above, but Pierce's steady hand on offense was just amazing tonight, especially in the second half. He was getting whatever he wanted tonight, and was going to the bucket at will. On top of that, he limited (along with Jeff Green) LeBron James to 15 points and 4 turnovers on 37.5% shooting. Ray Allen didn't have a huge game, but it seemed like everytime the Celtics needed one of his signature 3's, Ray delivered.

Non-Rondo Story #4: Return Of The Shaq, (Yes He Did, Yes He Did Did Did)

Shaq made his triumphant return tonight, and to be frank, he looked awful going up and down the court. Just terrible, like he was a 300+lbs, 7ft, 39-year-old or something. That's the bad news. 

The good news is that while Shaq didn't put out eye-popping numbers or anything, he was finally a viable option at center to spell Jermaine O'Neal (who was also great tonight with 3 blocks in his limited minutes) and Kevin Garnett. Although Shaq only played 8 minutes, those were big minutes, especially since they allowed KG to refuel his batteries so he could go back out there and embarrass Chris Bosh some more.

Alright, I'm done. Loved the game. Just loved it.