Thursday, May 31, 2012
The Celtics Waste The Best Game Of Rajon Rondo's Career, Lose Game 2 In Overtime
Rondo went for a career-high 44 points (16 of 24 shooting) with 10 assists, eight rebounds and three steals but it still somehow wasn't enough as the Heat won Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals 115-111 in overtime this evening at AmericanAirlines Arena.
An optimist would say that Miami just held serve at home as they went up 2-0 in the series; a pessimist would tell you that Boston gave it their best shot but they came up empty in what amounted to a must-win in everything but the name.
It's hard to put into words how well Rondo played. Let's start with the fact that he played all 53 minutes and scored all 12 of their points in overtime. That is absurd. He was 2 for 2 on 3-pointers, 10 of 12 from the free throw line and he hit jumpers all night long. Oh and he only had three turnovers. Paul Pierce (21 points, 6 rebounds) fouled out for the second time in three games and unlike in Game 7 vs. Philly, Rondo wasn't able to carry his team by himself without the captain. Kevin Garnett had a very quiet 18 points and eight rebounds but on the flip side, Ray Allen put up 13 points in 43 minutes.
One of the most promising parts of this was Ray's tying 3-pointer (tying it at 99). He still didn't shoot great (5 for 11 from the floor) but he looked way more energized than he has recently. Brandon Bass had eight points and 10 rebounds but he got buried on the bench in the fourth and overtime as Celtics head coach Doc Rivers went with Mickael Pietrus (to cover LeBron James).
If I told you that James was 7 for 20 from the floor, you would probably do cartwheels (assuming you like Boston) but the problem was that he took 24 free throws. Yes my friends, he hit 18 of them for 34 points along with 10 rebounds and seven assists in one of the most fraudulent big-time stat lines in playoff history.
Dwyane Wade (23 points) was absent for most of the first half but he was the central figure in the three biggest plays of the game (for Miami). Mario Chalmers (22 points) was the unlikely hero that helped the Heat overcome a slow first half. Udonis Haslem (13 points, 11 rebounds) also made a couple huge key hoops which made up for LeBron pooping his pants like usual (missing two shots at the end of regulation and two free throws in overtime). Wade's crazy plays were 1) a block on Allen's layup, 2) a non-foul call on Rondo where he hit him over the face and 3) a big boy And-1 (missed the free throw) after he was fouled by KG in the lane.
The Celts actually were up by as many as 15 points (47-32) in the second quarter but the Heat chipped away thanks to a laughable foul advantage (33-18). Three Celtics fouled out while only one Heat player (Joel Anthony, 4) had more than three fouls. LeBron and Wade combined for four total fouls in 91:35 of combined action. As we learned in the Philadelphia series, double-digit leads for the C's are nothing, they can give them up in a quarter or two. The truth is that if Miami (31 of 37) hit their free throws, they wouldn't have needed overtime but I digress.
Boston deserved a better fate (yeah I said it, without even wearing my Celtics foam finger) after leading most of the way. They were ahead 24-18 after the first quarter and 53-46 at halftime. The Heat exploded (35-22) in the third but credit the C's for hanging in there and winning the fourth (24-18).
The combination of no depth and Pierce fouling out proved to be too much to overcome for Boston. The Celtics shot 49.4% from the field and 26 of 29 on free throws. The Heat got back into the game thanks to 3-pointers (10-5) and moving the basketball well (24-15 assists). Miami had eight more fastbreak points (18-10) and 10 more points in the paint (40-30). Miami's bench outscored Boston 25-7 and had 12 more rebounds (17-5).
So here we are, the series shifts back to Boston on Friday (8:30 p.m., ESPN) for Game 3 as the Celts face an absolute must-win at TD Garden. You know that David Stern and the NBA's worst fear is a sweep in the Conference Finals so with the Thunder down 0-2 and heading home not to mention the Celtics in the same predicament, I have a feeling that both teams will find a way to get it done in Game 3. Otherwise they'll both be eliminated very shortly. Pardon me while I take a cold shower to wipe that stink off then cry myself to sleep thanks to either of those depressing notions.
Winning four out of the next five games against Miami is daunting enough, Boston should only focus on Game 3 and how they can find a way to get back in this series before it's too late.