Posted Jun 1 2012 7:38AM
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals was nothing like Game 1. And it was nothing like most of the Eastern Conference playoffs we've seen over the last five weeks, especially on the Boston Celtics' side of the bracket and the Celtics' side of the floor.
Yes, we had some offense on Wednesday. The Celtics scored 111 points on about 95 possessions ... and lost. It was their second-most efficient game of the postseason, and they showed offensive improvement across the board. They shot better, turned the ball over less, and got to the free-throw line more often than they did in Game 1.
But that wasn't enough, because the Miami Heat also cut down on their turnovers (from 14 in Game 1 to eight in Game 2) and got to the line an incredible 47 times.
It had to be a deflating loss for Boston, considering the minutes their stars played, as well as the performance of Rajon Rondo.
Rondo's Game 2 -- 44 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists -- was one for the ages. And obviously, the scoring was unprecedented. His previous career high was 35 points, set this February in Detroit.
This scoring outburst was much different that that one, when 22 of Rondo's 35 points were scored in the paint. On Wednesday, Rondo was just 5-for-11 in the paint, struggling once again to finish at the rim.
He did get to the line 12 times and connected on 10 of them. But most of his damage came from the perimeter in a very un-Rondo-like fashion. He was an incredible 9-for-11 from mid-range and 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.
Rondo's 11 buckets from outside the paint were five more than he's ever had in his career. Before Wednesday, he had made six shots from the perimeter three times in his six NBA seasons, as recently as Game 4 against the Hawks in the first round.
But in his last eight games, Rondo had totaled 10 baskets from outside the paint. He eclipsed that mark playing all 53 minutes in Game 2.
|Rondo's shooting from outside the paint|
You could have watched Game 2 and wondered why Rondo doesn't shoot more from the perimeter. And yes, his jumper is better than advertised. But the Celtics obviously can't rely on him to shoot 85 percent from outside the paint.
And really, whether it's Rondo on the perimeter or somebody else, this is what the Celtics are about offensively. They're a jump-shooting team, and Rondo is the only Boston player who consistently gets into the paint. So if he's taking his shots from the outside, they're just not getting to the basket enough.
The Celtics may be upset about the free throw discrepancy (47-29), but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett took just 12 of their 37 shots from the paint on Wednesday. On the other end of the floor, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade took 19 of their 35 shots from the paint. And in overtime, the Heat shot 5-for-6 in the paint before the Celtics were forced to foul in the final minute.
Rondo hit a pair of 3-pointers at the end of overtime to make that final minute somewhat interesting. Before that, the Celtics were just 3-for-14 from beyond the arc. And in addition to the disparity in paint scoring, that has been Boston's biggest problem thus far.
The Celtics, after shooting 16-for-21 on corner 3-pointers in the regular season against the Heat, are just 2-for-8 from the corners in the series. And they're not much better, 7-for-22 on 3s above the break.
Meanwhile, after a rough Game 1, the Heat lit it up from the corners on Wednesday, shooting 7-for-14. Shane Battier was 3-for-7 from the corners, including the 3-pointer that tied the game up with 2:19 left in regulation. Mario Chalmers was 2-for-3 from the corners and Mike Miller was 1-for-1. That's the kind of shooting the Heat need around James and Wade.
LeBron James finished fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting. And sometimes, his defensive impact is felt more when he's off the floor than when he's on.
James has been on the bench for less than 9 ½ minutes over the first two games of the series. And the Celtics have scored 27 points in that time, a rate of about 138 points per 48 minutes.
Thus far in the playoffs, the Heat have fallen off much more defensively than offensively when James has rested.
|Heat efficiency, 2012 Playoffs|
|OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions|
DefRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
All numbers courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
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