Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Celts Fall To 0-2 With Strange Loss In Miami
I wanted to believe that the Boston Celtics had a chance to steal a win tonight in Miami against the Heat but I'm a realist. Without Paul Pierce, whatever slim chance they possessed was basically nullified.
The Heat (2-0) got up by as many as 20 but they had to sweat a comeback by the Celtics (0-2) who cut it to three before falling 115-107 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
If I told you that rookie point guard Norris Cole was the Heat's best player in the fourth quarter, with 14 of their 24 total points, you wouldn't believe me right? Welcome to the NBA, where scrubs can shine when they are on a team with superstars.
As expected, LeBron James (team-high 26 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Dwyane Wade (24 points, 8 assists, 4 blocks) went crazy when Miami's minds were into the game. However, once the Celtics threw a junk zone defense at them in the third quarter, that changed everything. I'm shocked a noted Xs and O's guy like Coach Spo wasn't able to solve that riddle.
Ray Allen (game-high 28 points including 6 of 8 on 3-pointers), Rajon Rondo (22 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds) and Keyon Dooling (18 points off the bench) made it interesting until Cole (20 points) sealed it with a jumper, steal and some free throws.
It's nice to see that Boston didn't pack it in when they certainly could have but there are much bigger issues than that for this squad that seems to be aging twice as fast as normal. Namely the fact that Kevin Garnett (12 points, 5 rebounds) looks terrible, Jermaine O'Neal (0 points, 1 rebound) is still the starting center-with no real backup-and Sasha Pavlovic (5 points) got another start in Pierce's absence.
On the bright side, Brandon Bass (13 points, 5 rebounds) had another solid game off the bench for the Celtics.
Things have gotten so bad for KG that Chris Bosh (18 points, 11 rebounds) is clearly outplaying him. Not that it takes much when you play with LeBron and Wade.
Miami led 30-27 after the first quarter and 69-54 at halftime. That was the most points Boston had allowed in a first half in over 6.5 years. Pathetic.
The Heat pushed it to 20 points (85-65) midway through the third after a jumper by LeBron but they started to lose focus and go for highlight reel plays rather than smart basketball moves.
The Celtics outscored the Heat 29-22 in the third (down 91-83 headed into the fourth) and cut it to three with a few minutes left but Rondo threw a stupid lead pass to Dooling that was easily stolen. Cole made a shot, Bass hit a shot to trim it to three again but another Cole jumper closed the door and prompted ironic MVP chants by the cartoonish Miami crowd-featuring Rick Ross and DJ Khaled!
For the game, Miami shot 56.0% to 51.4% for Boston. The Celts made twice as many 3s (12-6) which is what kept them in it. The Heat hit four more free throws (25-21) and grabbed 10 more rebounds (38-28). Miami's athleticism showed up in the other numbers: seven more steals (16-9), five more blocks (8-3), 24 more points in the paint (52-28) and 14 more points off turnovers (33-19).
Chris Wilcox didn't play in the second half because of a shoulder injury so Doc Rivers already declared him and Pierce out for tomorrow night's game in New Orleans. Rivers might as well give rookies JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore the first run of their NBA careers; at least they won't have tired legs like everyone else.
It's the last contest of this three-game road trip to start the season and if we're being truthful, the C's could really use a win. 0-3 is not how they want to start this shortened schedule.
The Hornets (1-0) are not particularly good without Chris Paul but they're young and they have nothing to lose, not a good combo for Boston facing its first back-to-back of the young season.
PS. Why does Dick Bavetta still have a job?