The game opened with a barrage of alley oops and easy baskets. Amazingly the Celtics kept it close and tying the game about halfway through the quarter despite early lazy defense. Miami helped by turning the ball over a bunch early. But the Heat turned up the…. ummm… heat from then on, closing the quarter on an 18-6 run. Udonis Haslem (!!!) scored 12 first quarter points. His previous high this season was 7.
The Celtics found a little bit of their shooting touch, especially from deep. They hit 4 of 5 from deep mid-way through the quarter to climb within 3 after a wide open look for Olynyk from the right corner. The Celtics 3-point shooting was the only reason, really, that the Heat were only up 6 at the half. The Celtics hit 9 of 18 threes at halftime, outscoring the Heat 27-3 from beyond the arc to this point.
The Celtics stormed out of the half on a 10-2 run to take a 2 point lead, highlighted by an amazing pass from Rondo to Jeff Green that flung somehow from his hip seemingly without his hand moving. Brandon Bass was the star of the 3rd, dropping 12 points on 5 of 5 shooting to lead the C’s to a 27-19 edge and 2 point lead going into the 4th.
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with the C’s occasionally pushing the lead to 6, and then watching it drop back down. It dropped with about four minutes left, after Rondo’s 5th foul of the game, which sent him to the bench briefly. The Celtics went ahead on a Jeff Green 3, and then stretched it to 5 with under 2 on a Rondo layup. It slipped back to 3, but Brandon Bass’ defense on a Wade post up led to a Miami miss that Rondo capitalized on, giving the C’s a five point lead with 18.7 seconds to go. Shane Battier missed a three, the Heat missed a chance to foul, and the Celtics went on to beat the LeBron-less Heat 101-96.
Where to start?
Let’s start with the points leader, Avery Bradley, who had 23 tonight on 8-13 shooting, including 6-9 from 3. After a long layoff due to his ankle issues, it looks like his shot is back.
Brandon Bass deserves a special nod, especially for his second half. 14 of his 18 points came after halftime, and his defense and hustle were very important down the stretch.
Of course there’s Rondo, who fell one point shy of a triple double and had a very Rondo-ish line of 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists. The two floaters he hit at the end of the game were exactly the kinds of shots he was missing over the past few games. Nice time for him to find it.
Jared Sullinger just keeps on doing the dirty work. His 14 points were nice, but it’s his ability to agitate and find the ball that really stand out.
And how much more praise are we going to give Kelly Olynyk. 10 points and 5 rebounds off the bench, but 5 points and 3 rebounds came in the 4th quarter.
The early defense in the paint was disgusting. I was totally expecting a blowout after the Heat were up 14 early on. More than half of Miami’s points came in the paint, though (50). It’s rare to give up that many and survive. Good thing the Heat were playing without LeBron and with half a Wade.
Slim pickings…. Here are the first half highlights.
- The Celtics shot 13 of 28 from 3, and outscored Miami 39-12 from behind the arc.
- Miami actually made one more field goal and two more free throws than the Celtics tonight.
- Kris Humphries only played 14:33.
- Points in the paint: Miami-50, Boston- 20
- After scoring 12 first quarter points, Udonis Haslem scored 2 the rest of the game.
I know some of you are upset about the win because it hurts the draft position. I don’t know, maybe you’re right about it, but I love winning and I love seeing young guys who are keys to this team’s future contribute to it.