[Boston, MA] During Friday night’s Game 3, the Boston Celtics survived a late-contest comeback push by the Miami Heat to defend their home court and go 2-1 in this tough Eastern Conference Finals series battle.
The Heat gave themselves an opportunity by starting the final quarter off on a 19-6 run to cut the Celtics lead to 9. A couple of possessions later, the Celtics extended the lead back to 13. Miami’s Mario Chalmers then scored 6 straight points to cut the lead to 8 once again.
But the Celtics defense proved too much for the Heat down the final stretch, and the game ended 101-91 in favor of the guys in green and white.
“The difference was our defensive energy,” said Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers.
But the Heat still had a chance and blew it.
“They got us tonight,” offered Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra. “We still have a golden opportunity and we know that.”
Ah, opportunities …
Miami Heat struggled as Boston defended their home court in Game 3
Fast forward to Sunday night’s Game 4, and Bosh was once again kept out of the line-up (I guess that’s what they mean by “indefinitely”). He has now missed nine straight games. And the Heat certainly could have used him on Sunday as their struggles continued.
In the first quarter, the Celtics’ offense was on point. They started the game off on an 18-4 run to put pressure on Miami early on. The Heat later on went on a 15-3 run to cut the lead down to 6. LeBron James scored 12 points and Chalmers scored 6 points for the Heat in the quarter.
For the Celtics, is was Paul Pierce and his 12 points that helped the home team extend their lead in the final minutes of the first. At the end of one, the Celtics were up 34-23.
The Celtics kept going at the Heat in the second, starting the quarter on an 11-3 run to extend their lead to 17. The Celtics’ offense was seemingly unstoppable. The Heat just didn’t have an answer. Pierce and Keyon Dooling each scored 6 points and Ray Allen scored 5 points.
At halftime, the Celtics were up 61-47.
When Rajon Rondo was asked at halftime what holes he was exploiting in the Heat defense, he took a shot at the Heat saying, “Them complaining and crying to the referees in transition.”
The Heat came back with a force in the second half.
Miami Heat and NBA MVP LeBron James scored 29 in Game 4
It was a quiet, yet effective third quarter for the Heat as they outscored the Celtics 21-12 to cut the lead down to 12. They kept chipping away throughout the third until the end, when they went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead from 12 to 6. At the end of three, the Celtics were up, by nervous.
It was another intense fourth quarter, playoff basketball at its finest. With 4:52 left, the Heat took their first lead of the game. With 2:43 left, Celtics forward Kevin Garnett drained a jump-shot to give his team a 3-point lead.
Then with one minute left – and after two missed three-pointers that could have tied the game – Chalmers drove the lane and made a layup to cut the lead to 1. On the next possession for Boston, Garnett drove and scored to put Boston up 89-86.
But, with 37 seconds left, LeBron drained a wide-open three-pointer to tie the game.
With 21 seconds left, Garnett committed an offensive foul, which gave the Heat the ball with 21 seconds with no shot clock. Wade started out with the ball but then gave it to LeBron.
James tried to drive, but got double-teamed, and passed it to Udonis Haslem with only a couple of seconds left. Haslem had to throw up the desperation shot and missed. Going into overtime, the game was tied at 89.
The Heat were confident going into OT as they are 6-0 all-time in playoff games.
Dwyane Wade had a chance to win Game 4 for the Miami Heat in regulation
It was a controversial, yet low-scoring overtime. With 4:22 left, Pierce committed an offensive foul and was fouled out of the game. Haslem scored the first points in overtime off of a dunk with 3:30 left. With 1:51 left, LeBron James and Mickael Pietrus got tied up and hit the deck.
James was called for an offensive foul and also got fouled out. James said, “I didn’t think I fouled him.”
With 21 seconds left, Rondo went to the free-throw line to try to extend the Celtics’ lead to 3. However, Rondo made one out of the two free throws. Then, after the in-bounds play, D-Wade had the ball in his hands and the team’s fate at his finger tips.
Wade’s plan was to drive, but the defense did not let him get past the free throw line. With about 3 seconds left, Wade pump faked, got Marquis Daniels to jump and Wade put up the wide-open three, but the ball just rimmed out. The final score was Celtics 93, Heat 91.
“This series,” Heat Coach Spoelstra said, “is probably as unconventional as any series I’ve been a part of and probably as much as I’ve seen.”
Kevin Garnett was clutch for the Celtics, scoring 17 points and pulling in 14 rebounds. Rajon Rondo scored 15 points and dished out 15 assists. LeBron James scored 29 points and Dwyane Wade scored 20 points for the Heat.
Game 5 will be in the Heat’s house, which hopefully will give them energy to win. With only three games left, this next game is crucial.
“So we gather ourselves, get some rest, and get ready for the next game,” Spoelstra said.
By: Michael Tristani II/Sunshine Slate
Lead image: Miami Heat