Monday, June 4, 2012
Wade Misses Winning 3 At Buzzer, Celtics Survive OT In Game 4 To Tie Series At 2
First off, let me say that I was shocked that Dwyane Wade (20 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks) missed a wide-open 3-pointer that would have won Game 4 in overtime for the Heat.
After Rajon Rondo (15 points, 15 assists) made one of two free throws, Miami elected to go for the win and they couldn't ask for much more as Wade got Marquis Daniels to bite on a pump fake. Trouble is, Wade is not a good 3-point shooter (probably the only major flaw in his game).
Instead, Boston held on for a gritty 93-91 win tonight at TD Garden, evening the Eastern Conference Finals up at two games apiece. The Celtics had six players score in double figures (a first for this series) while all five starters did the same for the first time since Game 7 vs. Philadelphia.
Boston would need all of those contributions since Paul Pierce (23 points, 6 rebounds) fouled out (3rd time in last 5 games) on a charge (correct call) early in overtime. Soon after that, LeBron James (29 points, 6 rebounds, 7 turnovers) fouled out for the first time in four years (wish I was joking). With that, the offensive burden fell to Wade and it should come as no surprise that the guy who hasn't topped 23 points in the four games so far in the series, couldn't finish the job. Ironically, LeBron (the guy who isn't clutch at all) hit a tying 3-pointer late in regulation. Still, he also passed up the final shot to Udonis Haslem (12 points, 17 rebounds) who had to force an airball as regulation expired. Sweet last possession Coach Spo.
Kevin Garnett had 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks, Ray Allen put up 16 points (including 4 3-pointers) and Brandon Bass notched 11 points and seven rebounds. The pleasant surprise for the Celts was Keyon Dooling (10 points) who hit three 3-pointers and provided the only points off Boston's bench which otherwise scored one total point. That's not to say they didn't make plays though since Mickael Pietrus drew LeBron's sixth foul and grabbed two offensive rebounds on the same possession late in overtime-helping Boston kill over a minute off the clock.
This game followed the pattern of the previous two where Boston jumped out to a big early lead (21-6 & 61-43 before settling for 61-47 at halftime) but Miami responded with a big third quarter (21-12). The Celts scored 34 points in the first quarter and had 61 at the half, the most the Heat have allowed all postseason. The Heat scored 23 in the first quarter and 24 in the second quarter. Miami outscored Boston 21-16 in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Yes, that's correct: the Celts scored 28 points in the second half and captured a must-win playoff game.
If it makes you feel any better, the C's offense really exploded in overtime (4-2). Looking at the box score, it's hard to say why the Heat lost. They made three more free throws (17-14), had twice as many fastbreak points (14-7) and 10 more points in the paint (48-38). This was the first game that the team with more points in the paint lost in the series.
Boston's three more 3-pointers (9-6), four more offensive rebounds (11-7) and two more assists (22-20) were just enough for them to somehow survive.
The first eight games of the Western Conference Finals and Eastern Conference Finals have all been won by the home team, proving how insanely important home court is in the NBA playoffs. To break this streak and advance to the NBA Finals, the Celtics (and Thunder) will need to find a way to win on the road. I think all Boston needs is one so why not on Tuesday in Game 5 (8:30 p.m., ESPN)? I have confidence that Boston will win Game 6 at home mainly because they're 8-1 at the Garden this postseason while Miami is 3-4 on the road; plus, the Heat have lost seven of their last eight (including playoffs) in Boston.
If we're being honest, the C's let Game 2 (115-111 OT loss) slip out of their hands which means that although they could be up 3-1 in this series, they at least can have confidence that they can win at AmericanAirlines Arena. They've won the last two games in the series so keep the momentum going that way. As I've said all along, the Heat are facing all the pressure and scrutiny in this series. Nobody outside of New England expected the Celts to make this a competitive series let alone win it. Early reports after Game 4 indicate that Chris Bosh is expected to return in Game 5 (he was injured in Game 1 vs. Indiana). That sounds like the move of a dare I say, desperate team?