Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 112, Heat 107
Celtics 112, Heat 107
The Celtics and Heat, two of the premier teams the NBA has to offer, met on national television tonight for the second time in two weeks. And as many heavyweight bouts often go, round two felt a whole lot like round one.
Back on Opening Night in Boston, the C’s were able to open up a huge lead over the first three quarters and seemed to have put the game away before the Heat put together a strong run to make things interesting down the stretch. Boston wound up winning that game 88-80, but it was clear that they dominated the majority of the contest.
During round two in Miami, the Celtics, playing without Delonte West and Jermaine O’Neal (and having Shaquille O’Neal back after just one day of practice), made it look easy for three quarters yet again. Boston jumped ahead early and led by as many as 20 in the early stages of the third period, but yet again, LeBron James – err, Miami – would not go away quietly.
While his superstar teammates decided to fold under pressure again, James took over down the stretch and scored 20 points over the final 19:09 of the game. The only teammate who joined his scoring party was Udonis Haslem, who managed to drop 15 points through Miami’s hoop over the final 17:39 of regulation.
With those two players catching fire it was nearly impossible to stop the Heat’s offense. It seemed as if every shot that either of them took was going in. Their play helped Miami make this one much closer than it should have been. For the second time in as many meetings, though, Boston made the plays down the stretch while Miami simply couldn’t get it done.
With the lead down seven and just over three minutes remaining in the game, the Heat had possession of the ball and complete momentum on their side. Scoring a basket would have cut the lead to five, but draining a trey would have blew the roof off of American Airlines Arena – and that’s exactly what Dwyane Wade tried to do. He pulled up for a 3-pointer and was seemingly dead on. The ball went in the hoop and looked as if it was going to sink right through, but the Basketball Gods had a different idea. The ball slowly rolled around the rim and popped out right into Glen Davis’ hands and the C’s called a quick timeout, knowing that the next possession was critical.
The play sucked the life out of the Heat crowd, and so did the clutch jumper Paul Pierce immediately hit out of the timeout. The lead was inches away from being down to four, but instead it ballooned back up to nine with the captain's shot.
But the Heat still had another chance to make the same play with 1:04 remaining and the score standing at 110-103. This time they leaned on their other superstar perimeter player, James, to take the huge 3-pointer from the left corner of the court – the most efficient shot the NBA has to offer. As shocking as Wade’s rim-out 3-pointer was, James’ attempt was even more embarrassing. He fired it up with full confidence but this one had no shot at falling through the net. It actually clanked off of the side of the backboard and bounced right to Kevin Garnett.
After that wild miss, it was as clear as daylight that this night was Boston’s and not Miami’s. Two free throws from Ray Allen with seven seconds remaining wound up sealing the deal as the C’s knocked the Heat out in round two just the way they did in round one back in Boston.
Key Box Score Line
When the Celtics shoot 54.4 percent as a team and score 112 points, you know there’s going to be a few options for this spot. But the one who trumps them all tonight is Ray Allen.
Allen has been absolutely on fire this season and he lit it up again tonight. He dropped a Celtics-season-high 35 points during the win and shot a blistering 13-of-23 from the field. He began the game shooting 7-of-7 from downtown before missing his final two 3-point attempts. His 2-for-2 performance from the free-throw line sealed Boston’s win with seven seconds left on the clock.
Oh, and it wasn’t just his stellar shooting that shined in this game. We can’t forget to mention that the man he was matched up against nearly the entire night, Dwyane Wade, was locked down and limited to only eight points on 2-of-12 shooting. In two games against Wade and the Heat, Allen has now scored 55 points to Wade’s 21.
Box Score Nuggets
- Ray Allen scored a Celtics-season-high 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting.
- Allen began the game shooting 7-of-7 from downtown.
- Paul Pierce, who scored 25 points, was the only Celtic starter not to grab a single rebound.
- Kevin Garnett, on the other hand, continued his rebounding run with a game-high 13 rebounds.
- Allen dominated Wade again and limited the All-Star guard to only eight points, one rebound and three assists on 2-of-12 shooting.
- LeBron James neared a triple-double with a game-high 35 points to go along with 10 rebounds and nine assists.
- Glen Davis grabbed nine rebounds off the bench for Boston.
- Rajon Rondo's 16 assists were only two shy of Miami's team total of 18.
- Udonis Haslem had a great game off the bench for the Heat with 21 points and 10 boards. He shot 9-of-10 from the floor.
- The Celtics, considered to be the older and slower team, outscored the Heat 19-10 in fast break points.
- Both teams shot at least 50 percent from the field.
- Carlos Arroyo and Joel Anthony, two starters for the Heat, combined to record four points, zero rebounds and zero assists.
- Boston committed only 12 total turnovers.
- Allen shot 7-of-9 from downtown, but the rest of the C's shot only 2-of-7.
- Miami's 32 made free throws were nearly double the amount that Boston made (17).
- Glen Davis fouled out of the game in 28 minutes of playing time.
Quote of the Night
Shaquille O'Neal on how the Celtics match up against their opponents: "We wanted to bring that physical presence to the game. We are not one of those teams that need to use other teams as a measuring stick. We know what we are capable of. We match up well with any team."