Ford Keys to the Game: Heat 81, Celtics 97
Heat 81, Celtics 97
From the start of tonight’s Game 3 and until the very end, everyone in the building knew for a fact that the Boston Celtics were not going to lay down and quit in their series against the Miami Heat. Energy, passion and heart bled through Boston’s jerseys for 48 minutes, allowing the Celtics to respond to their two-game series deficit with a championship punch.
Erik Spoelstra spoke after Boston’s 97-81 victory and said that his team expected the C’s to make about three or four "bursts" in tonight’s game. The first came in the opening quarter, when Boston jumped out to an early 10-point lead, but the most critical burst came in the third period.
The Celtics headed into the locker room trailing by two points at halftime despite that double-digit lead early in the game. That quickly changed in the third, thanks to some huge shots from Paul Pierce and Co.
With the Celtics leading by one at the 9:43 mark of the third, Pierce rose up and drilled a 25-foot 3-pointer off of a Rajon Rondo pass. That shot brought the Garden crowd to its feet and put all of the momentum back in the Celtics’ corner.
Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal each put home a basket to sandwich a 3-pointer from Wade, and that left the Celtics with a five-point lead with 8:31 left in the third. O’Neal’s next play, however, may have been even more important than his only basket of the game.
Chris Bosh, who struggled mightily tonight, attempted to take a shot over O’Neal on Miami’s next possession but Boston’s starting center sent that attempt back in the opposite direction. The Celtics took the ball in transition, but LeBron James blocked Rondo’s ensuing layup attempt. Luckily for the Celtics, though, Kevin Garnett was in perfect position for one of his four offensive rebounds on the night. He grabbed the board and dropped a pass off to Rondo, who immediately spotted Pierce open behind the 3-point line.
Pierce missed only two of his seven 3-pointers on the night, and this certainly wasn’t one of them. He canned the open jumper to put the Celtics ahead by eight, and his team ran away with the game from that point on. Boston’s lead eventually grew to 14 in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth quarter, which allowed this series to begin heating up yet again.
Key Box Score Line
Scan tonight’s box score and it won’t take long to figure out who was the best player on the court. Kevin Garnett was unstoppable by all accounts, and he dominated the Miami Heat.
Boston’s All-Star power forward finished with whopping game-high totals of 28 points and 18 rebounds to lead his team to a critical Game 3 victory. He shot 13-of-20 from the floor – his second consecutive game with 20 shot attempts – and also pitched in two steals and an assist. Garnett, who averaged just 31.3 minutes per game during the regular season, played the most minutes of his postseason with 37:47 of playing time.
Box Score Nuggets
- Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each attempted 20 field goals.
- Rajon Rondo dished out a game-high 11 assists.
- Kevin Garnett finished with game highs of 28 points and 18 rebounds.
- The Celtics totaled 27 assists in the game.
- Joel Anthony's 11 rebounds led the Heat.
- Paul Pierce scored 27 points and hit five of his seven 3-pointers.
- The teams combined for only 36 free throw attempts, which is the exact number of attempts Miami attempted alone in Game 2.
- Von Wafer checked into the game for five seconds.
- Miami blocked nine shots in the game, highlighted by five from LeBron James.
- The Celtics shot 9-of-18 from 3-point range, while Miami shot just 5-of-23.
- Chris Bosh finished the game with just six points and five rebounds.
- Delonte West scored 11 points off the bench on 4-of-7 shooting.
- Boston outscored Miami 18-5 in fast break points.
- Miami shot just 42.5 percent from the field.
- Jermaine O'Neal accounted for three of Boston's four blocked shots.
- The Heat scored more than 21 points in only one quarter, the second, in which it scored 25.
- Rondo turned the ball over a game-high five times.
- LeBron James (6-of-16) and Dwyane Wade (8-of-19) combined to shoot just 14-of-35 from the floor.
- Miami's starters made only one 3-pointer, which came from Wade.
- Outside of Garnett, Anthony was the only other player in the game to record a double-double. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds
Quote of the Night
Erik Spoelstra's opening statement during his postgame media availability: "That was a championship-caliber response."