Heat 76, Celtics 85
NBA basketball is a game of runs, and there's no better indicator of that than the third quarter of tonight's series opener between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.
These two teams went into halftime separated by only three points, but less than five minutes into the third quarter, the Heat had already pulled ahead by 14 thanks to nine points from Dwyane Wade in the span of only 2:25. Everything seemed to be going Miami's way, and the Celtics had no answer for Wade's elite play.
Then Doc Rivers put Tony Allen into the game.
Allen, who received CSN's Sixth Star Award tonight for being Boston's top reserve this season, was the player of the game for the C's. He scored 14 points in the game, but what made the real difference was the defensive intensity he brought onto the court when he replaced Ray Allen with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter.
Boston's secret weapon came into the game and absolutely locked down Wade for the remainder of the quarter, limiting him to only one shot attempt, zero points and two turnovers. And while Wade disappeared, his teammates did nothing to pick up the slack. In fact, his teammates managed to score only five points over the final 7:03 of the third.
Getting stops is only half the battle in making a run in this league; you've got to put the ball in the basket at the other end, too. The Celtics didn't forget to pull their weight on offense, as they tallied 15 points over the final 6:49 of the quarter. Paul Pierce, who scored a team-high 16 points, dropped nine during that stretch, and before you knew it that 14-point deficit had dwindled down to two.
The C's controlled the game from that point on, at one point pulling ahead by double-digits. Boston finished the game with an 85-76 win, and they'll be back in the Garden Tuesday night with the goal of jumping ahead 2-0 in the series.
Key Box Score Line
Tony Allen played the role of unexpected hero tonight by dropping 14 points, three steals and two blocked shots on the Heat while leading the Celtics reserves with 29:21 of playing time. His impact on the game cannot even begin to be justified by that stat line, because his biggest accomplishment of the night was shutting down Dwyane Wade, as is detailed in the Key Moment section above. Allen's incredible defense completely changed this game. His 7-of-12 shooting performance was just icing on the cake.
Box Score Nuggets
- Each team scored at least 28 points in the first period, but neither recorded more than 23 points in any of the final three quarters.
- Miami scored only 10 points in the fourth quarter.
- Paul Pierce scored a team-high 16 points, followed by Kevin Garnett's 15.
- Garnett grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
- Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 26 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists.
- Wade and Quentin Richardson (15 points) were the only Heat players to score more than eight points.
- Boston forced Miami into 22 turnovers and scored 38 points off of those turnovers.
- Miami had three players (Wade, Jermaine O'Neal and Michael Beasley) grab at least eight rebounds.
- Glen Davis scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench for Boston.
- Tony Allen led all reserves with 14 points, three steals and two blocked shots.
- Rajon Rondo finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists.
- Ray Allen scored only eight points on 2-of-9 shooting.
- Each team held a double-digit lead in the second half.
- Miami shot only 39.7 percent from the floor and 4-of-17 from 3-point range.
- The Celtics shot only 1-of-6 from downtown.
- Boston took 28 free throws, while Miami attempted only 13.
- Dwyane Wade, who averaged nearly 11 free throw attempts against Boston in the regular season, attempted only six free throws tonight, making four.
- Boston finished with 11 steals, while Miami grabbed nine.
- Kevin Garnett was ejected from the game with 40.0 seconds remaining after being assessed two technical fouls as a result of a skirmish in front of Miami's bench.
- Glen Davis, Udonis Haslem and Quentin Richardson were also assessed technicals.
Quote of the Night
Paul Pierce on Tony Allen's play: "He does everything that you want a guy off the bench to do. You want him to bring energy, just a spark when things aren't going well. I thought he did that on both ends of the court. He made Dwyane Wade play him on the offense and on the defensive end. He made him work on the other end. He did everything that you could ask for, coming off of the bench and that's the way he has been playing for us during the last month, since he got back in the rotation. He is playing well for us right now, and we are going to need that from him all series."