This time the Celtics didn't quite make it all the way back. They got as close as 3 points, but the Heat took advantage of more sloppy play by the C's and held on to win by 8.
The Celtics looked horrible in the first half. They looked like the "old and slow" Celtics that everyone likes to joke about. At the half, the Heat had 23 points off of 15 Celtics turnovers. The Heat were putting on an absolute show that featured about a dozen LeBron James/Dwyane Wade highlights.
In the second half, the Celtics switched to a zone defense, and the comeback was on. Suddenly, the C's didn't have to keep up with everyone man-to-man, and the Heat got passive and settled for jumpers. The Celtics, meanwhile, were getting a vintage Ray Allen performance (6 of 8 from 3, 28 points), and a crazy boost off the bench from Keyon Dooling (18 points on 4 of 6 3's) and a nice contribution from Brandon Bass (13 points, 5 rebounds).
But it fell apart down the stretch. Rajon Rondo tried to force a long pass to Brandon Bass, it was picked off by Wade, and 8 seconds later Norris freakin' Cole (20 points) buried a long J. Bass answered but then so did Cole. The C's never scored again, bumbling an inbounds play to really seal the deal with 14 seconds left.
- Paul Pierce is SOOO important to this team. Without him, Sasha Pavlovic creates a ripple effect that destroys the Celtics offense. The Celtics certainly would have turned it over against the Heat D, but not 15 times in the first half. Aside from Pierce's ability to create his own offense when needed, he is a steadying influence on the team.
- Sasha Pavlovic is so bad, he only played 11 minutes.
- KG, and I'm being nice here, did not look good out there. He's such a good player, the shell of his former self still had 12 points and 5 rebounds, but he did not look good out there. Maybe Miami is too young and fast for him now. Y'know? I'm going to leave it at that for now.
- He still looked better than Jermaine O'Neal: 21 minutes, 0 points, 0 blocks, 1 rebound. Yes, he had early foul trouble, but that's as bad a line as you're going to see out of someone.
- Rajon Rondo had 22 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds. A near triple double as he tried to do A LOT. 7 turnovers is very high, and a couple of them were bad. But a bunch of them were Rondo trying to make plays. He really is the entire team for long stretches at a time.
- Avery Bradley played 1 minute. The kid is not ready for prime time yet. But it was still a minute more than E'Twaun Moore got. I get the feeling Doc is saving some of these guys for tomorrow, knowing the Hornets aren't as good and he'd have to rest the starters.
- Chris Wilcox bruised his shoulder and only played 8 minutes.
- One positive: The Celtics dropped 107 points on a damn good Heat defense. There is something to be said for that.
- And finally, I'll touch on the officiating. It was widely acknowledged tonight that the C's got some really terrible calls. Dick Bavetta called Jermaine O'Neal for a foul when Chris Bosh simply mishandled a pass. Bass was called for a key offensive foul that led to a 4-point swing when Cole was nowhere near set. The officiating was not good.