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John Schuhmann

Paul Pierce, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett all played key roles in Boston's Game 4 win.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Game 4: In an ugly one, Celts end up looking a little better

Posted Jun 4 2012 11:23AM

BOSTON -- Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals was a wild one, our second overtime game of the series. This time, the Boston Celtics came out on top, 93-91, to even the series at two games apiece.

This was very much a game of two halves, especially for the Celtics. Boston scored 61 points on 49 percent shooting in the first half. And they scored 32 points on 33 percent shooting after that.

Overall, it was the first real ugly, Eastern Conference-style game of the series, with less than a point scored per possession.

Celtics on the glass

The difference in the second half was more than just the Celtics' shooting. In addition to increasing their pressure on the perimeter in the second half, the Heat also secured the defensive glass. Boston had eight offensive rebounds and 11 second-chance points in the first half, and then just three offensive rebounds and six second-chance points in the second half and overtime.

Of course, Boston's final two offensive rebounds -- both by Mickael Pietrus in the final two minutes of OT -- were crucial in limiting Miami's opportunities to tie or take the lead. And the Celtics have now had double-digit offensive rebounds in three of the four games in the series.

That's big, because Boston was the worst offensive rebounding team in the regular season, and was even worse through the first two rounds of the playoffs. But they've been able to give themselves a few more opportunities in this series.

Celtics offensive rebounding
Season/round OREB% OREB/G 2CP/G
Reg. Season 19.7% 7.7 9.9
First 2 rounds 18.8% 7.3 8.8
Conf. finals 25.0% 10.3 13.0
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
2CP/G = Second-chance points per game

The Heat now rank 12th of 16 playoff teams in postseason defensive rebounding percentage (72.0 percent), worst among the four teams still alive. And Chris Bosh's possible return in Game 5 might not necessarily help.

Bosh had the third-best defensive rebounding percentage on the Heat this season, but Miami's team defensive rebounding rate has been about the same in Bosh's minutes on the floor (73.5 percent) as it has been with him on the bench (73.7 percent). The only time the Heat have rebounded particularly well (74.5 percent) is when Bosh has been paired with Joel Anthony in the frontcourt.

A lineup change

Speaking of Anthony, we had our first starting lineup change of the series in Game 4, with Anthony replacing Ronny Turiaf at center for the Heat. The change didn't work out too well, as the new lineup got outscored 24-11 in eight minutes on Sunday. Overall, Anthony was a game-low minus-11.

The Heat were much better with Udonis Haslem at center with the other four starters. That lineup outscored the Celtics 28-18 in 18 minutes in Game 4, and is a plus-24 in 43 minutes in the series overall.

Miami's most used lineups
In the Eastern Conference finals
Lineup GP MIN PTS OppPTS +/-
Chalmers, Wade, Battier, James, Haslem 4 43 93 69 +24
Chalmers, Wade, Battier, James, Anthony 4 35 66 75 -9
Chalmers, Wade, Battier, James, Turiaf 3 24 42 37 +5
Chalmers, Wade, Miller, Battier, James 2 13 34 18 +16

After a pretty successful run in the fourth quarter of Game 3, the Heat went back to their micro lineup -- Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller, Shane Battier and LeBron James -- in the first quarter on Sunday, smartly when Kevin Garnett took his first break.

The micro lineup outscored the Celtics 8-4, scoring on each of its four offensive possessions. But Erik Spoelstra let it play for only 2:34 in that first quarter, and never went back to it.

Rondo to the rim

In Game 2, Rajon Rondo shot 9-for-11 from mid-range and 2-for-2 from 3-point range. The Heat knew Rondo couldn't keep that up, and apparently, he did too. In the last two games, only eight of his 30 shots have come from outside the paint.

On Sunday, 12 of Rondo's 14 shots came in the restricted area. And his other two shots were 3-pointers at the quarter or shot-clock buzzer. It was the second time in the postseason that Rondo didn't take a single mid-range shot. And it all made for a fascinating shot chart.

Hot and cold LeBron

James had a huge Game 3, scoring 34 points on 16-for-26 shooting. He had his jumper going, shooting 6-for-12 from mid-range.

In Game 4 though, James was 0-for-4 from mid-range. In fact, he was just 2-for-11 from outside the restricted area, and the only shot he hit from outside the paint was his game-tying 3-pointer with 37 seconds left in regulation.

Who's clutch this year?

That was a clutch three, but James is now just 2-for-8 on *clutch-time shots in this series and 5-for-16 in the postseason overall (though he does have a league-high 25 free-throw attempts). In last year's series against the Celtics, James was 5-for-10 in clutch time, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range.

*Clutch time = Last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less

The Celtics shot just 5-for-17 in clutch time in that series last year, and they already have more than twice as many clutch-time baskets in this series, shooting 11-for-27. Rajon Rondo, who had the Celtics' only field goal in overtime on Sunday, is 5-for-8.

Most clutch-time points
During 2012 playoffs
Kevin Durant 12 20 60.0% 1 6 9 12 34
Rajon Rondo 14 26 53.8% 0 0 4 5 32
LeBron James 5 16 31.3% 2 4 18 25 30
Kobe Bryant 7 23 30.4% 3 10 12 12 29
Kevin Garnett 11 24 45.8% 1 3 5 6 28
A Wade three is not a good three

James fouled out in overtime. And down two, the Heat put the ball in Dwyane Wade's hands on their final possession. There were other options on the play, but Wade got a good look from 3-point range at the buzzer. The problem is that a Wade 3-pointer, open or not, is not exactly a good shot.

Wade was 2-for-5 from 3-point range before launching that last one. But in the history of the NBA, there have been 276 players who have attempted at least 1,000 (regular season) 3-pointers. And only three of the 276 have shot worse than Wade.

Worst 3-point percentage, NBA history
Player 3PM 3PA 3P%
Charles Barkley 538 2,020 26.6%
Ron Harper 523 1,811 28.9%
Isiah Thomas 398 1,373 29.0%
Dwyane Wade 324 1,113 29.1%
Derrick Coleman 326 1,105 29.5%
Minimum 1,000 attempts

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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