Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 91. Heat 102
Celtics 91, Heat 102
Paul Pierce hit his first free throws of the night with 7:09 remaining in the contest, and those two points knotted up Game 2 at 80-80.
It was all dandy on Boston’s side of things for that split moment, but all of the positive vibes slipped away quickly. Its offense went stale after Pierce’s free throws, and that left the Celtics ripe for the picking.
Miami, and in particular LeBron James, decided to pick away.
On the Heat’s very first possession after the Celtics had tied the score up, Dwyane Wade drove toward the paint and kicked out to a wide-open Mario Chalmers, who stood behind the 3-point line between the top of the key and the right wing. Upon catching the pass, Chalmers rose up in perfect rhythm and nailed the 3 to derail any possibility that Boston would take a lead with its next shot.
It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because Boston’s next shot – and next, and next, and next, and so on – did nothing but clank off of the rim.
The Celtics missed their next six attempts from the field after the Chalmers trey, leaving them scoreless for three minutes and 50 seconds of the fourth quarter. That stretch was the most important portion of the game, and Miami won it with ease.
Wade and James took over following Chalmers’ 3, with Wade putting home two free throws after Ray Allen was whistled for a shooting foul. Miami’s next basket may have been the most important one of the game, and it could rightfully be compared to a knockout punch in a heavyweight bout.
After Glen Davis missed a shot in the lane for Boston, Wade fired up a jumper for the Heat at the other end from a spot near the left elbow. The shot missed, but as bodies rose up for the rebound Joel Anthony tipped the ball away from the crowd. As luck would have it – at least for the Heat – that tip landed directly into James’ hands on the baseline. He caught the ball and rose up for a slam dunk all in one motion as if he had just caught a perfect pass from a teammate, and he was also fouled on the play. He converted the ensuing free throw, and those three points put Miami ahead by eight with 5:46 remaining in the game.
It was only three more points tacked onto the lead, and there was plenty of time remaining for Boston to stage a comeback, but that play seemed to wipe the wind out of the Celtics’ sails.
James scored Miami’s next four points as well, with two free throws and a nothing-but-net jumper from the left baseline, to bump the Heat’s lead up to 12 with 4:35 left on the clock. Wade and Chris Bosh each tacked on a single free throw in the next two minutes to cap a 14-0 run that decided the outcome of this game.
While Boston’s offense went silent, Miami’s caught fire. James and Wade helped lead the Heat to victory, and all the Celtics could do was stand by and watch while looking ahead to playing the next two games of this series on their home court.
Key Box Score Line
For the second consecutive game, only one Celtic player could get it going offensively, and for the second consecutive game, that just wasn’t enough.
Rajon Rondo was the energizer tonight for Boston and he pushed for his seventh career postseason triple-double. He finished four rebounds shy of that feat, but his numbers were outstanding nonetheless.
Boston’s point guard finished with a team-high 20 points and a game-high 12 assists to go along with his six rebounds. Only one player on Boston’s roster, starting center Jermaine O’Neal, who had nine rebounds, outperformed those six boards by Rondo.
Rondo pushed the pace and did everything he could to keep the Celtics within striking distance in this one. And it cannot go unmentioned that he did so while playing through a sore back. In comparison to Game 1, he increased his scoring by 12 points, his assist total by five and decreased his turnovers by two. Not a bad night, particularly when your team shoots only 43.0 percent from the field.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kevin Garnett fulfilled Doc Rivers' wishes by taking 20 shots in Game 2, but he made only eight.
- Boston's bench outscored Miami's 27-12.
- Each of Miami's Big Three, who each had at least 17 points, individually outscored Boston's Big Three, who were led by Garnett's 16 points.
- LeBron James scored a game-high 35 points and also grabbed seven rebounds.
- The Celtics turned the ball over only 12 times, which led to 10 Miami points.
- Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 20 points and notched a game-high 12 assists.
- Four Heat players finished with a plus/minus of at least plus-10, while Boston's highest number in that category was plus-five by Jeff Green.
- Jermaine O'Neal played well for Boston, scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.
- James Jones, who scored 25 points in Game 1, went scoreless in Game 2.
- For the second consecutive game, the teams scored the exact same amount of points in the paint. Game 1's totals were 26 points apiece, and tonight's totals were 38 points apiece.
- Chris Bosh's 11 rebounds were a game-high. He also scored 17 points.
- None of Miami's players recorded more than four assists. Bosh led the team with four dimes.
- The Heat attempted 36 free throws to the Celtics' 22. That differential led to 10 more points from the free-throw line for Miami than Boston recorded.
- Six of the nine Heat players who appeared in the game finished with three fouls apiece.
- Jeff Green scored 11 points off the bench for Boston, and eight of them came in the first quarter.
- Delonte West scored 10 points off of the bench while not missing a single shot.
- Miami finished with nine blocked shots to Boston's two.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on Game 3: "We’ll be ready [for the next game], I can guarantee you that."