Friday, June 1, 2012
Some Unexpected Help Pushes Celtics To A 101-91 Game 3 Win Vs. Miami
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at TD Garden, Boston was able to play the way that got them here: they were unselfish (4 guys in double figures), they pounded the ball inside (58-46 advantage in points in the paint) and hit free throws (20-10). This all added up to a complete 101-91 win for the Celts that brought some life to this series, cutting the Heat's advantage to 2-1.
It's hard to believe that in a must-win game to save the season, Marquis Daniels (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Keyon Dooling (7 points, 4 rebounds) were two major keys to the victory. That's the gospel truth though, both provided major energy, defense and some timely scoring as Boston's bench (19 points, series high for them) finally showed a flicker of life.
When Boston focuses on getting Kevin Garnett (24 points, 11 rebounds) the ball down low, good things usually happen, especially with no Chris Bosh in the lineup for Miami. Paul Pierce scored 23, Rajon Rondo orchestrated everything with 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while Ray Allen had 10 points and five rebounds. Off the top of my head, I think it was the best single game for those four players this postseason; meaning that they all showed up at the same time in a big way.
LeBron James (34 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) scored 16 in the first quarter but the Celtics' collapsing defense was able to limit him the rest of the way. He only took five foul shots (making one) and after hitting every jumper early on, those same shots weren't falling when it mattered. This loss didn't fall on LeBron's thick shoulders though, Dwyane Wade (18 points) no-showed for most of the first three quarters. Mario Chalmers (14 points, 6 assists) and Mike Miller (11 points, 6 rebounds) continued their strong play for Miami.
The Celtics led from start to finish and while their 24-point advantage shrunk to as little as eight points in the fourth quarter, they had them all the way (haha yeah right, I think we all sweated out those last few minutes).
Boston was up 30-28 after the first quarter and 55-42 at halftime thanks to a late 3-pointer by Allen. It would have been even more if not for some easy fastbreak buckets the Heat converted after made shots by the C's. The third quarter has been Miami's jackpot in the playoffs but the Celts didn't allow that to happen (30-21). The Heat made a run in the fourth (28-16) credit to them for not packing it in but a lack of 3-point shooters (5 for 17) really hurt them.
While Game 3 was the most important of the series, the same can now be said for Game 4 on Sunday night (8:30 p.m, ESPN). All Miami wants is one road win and they'll go back to South Beach with a chance to close it out. Not for nothing but Boston is 7-1 at home this postseason and the Heat have lost six of their last seven playoff games at TD Garden (spanning three postseasons).
Without Chris Bosh, the Celts are a deeper and more unselfish team. Tonight was a perfect example of what happens when Rondo, KG, Pierce and Allen are in harmony. Add in some great minutes from Dooling and Daniels and now we have ourselves a series.