The new Big Three version of the Boston Celtics just played the shortest playoff series in their three years together. They beat the Miami Heat 4 games to 1 with an 96-86 win last night.
That it took three years to say that, says something about a very talented team that just rarely seems to do things the easy way.
They will be glad they did as the Cavaliers are next up as the Cavs finished off Chicago last night as well.
Celtics Feasted on the Heat
With just a few sputters, The Green Machine is living up to its name in this first series, as they clearly out matched the Miami Heat and made them look like little more than Dwyane Wade and The No Help Quartet.
Even in this close out game, the Beantown Ballers got a bit of basketball indigestion in the 3rd quarter. After fashioning what should have a game and series ending lead, they burped up some far too familiar uninspired basketball, reflective of a year playing ‘hard and well’ only on occasion. They coughed up all but 3 points of a 21 point lead before righting the ship.
The score shrunk to 73-70 with 10: 14 left in the game before Ray Allen pushed the Celtics back in the right direction with a lay up on a goal tending call and a three pointer. Ray has hit more big shots for the Celtics this season than any one and he would not let the Celtic combine revert to regular season form by relinquishing another double digit lead.
Giving a despondent and beaten Miami team new life, the Cs then fought off the Heat’s Dwyane Wade (31 points) and Mario Chalmers (20 points off the bench) to cement the win in the final minutes of the game. ‘Measley’ Michael Beasley scored 2 points on 0-3 shooting, signaling the possible end of his stay in Miami, while equally dreadful Jermaine O’Neal looked completely washed up against Kendrick Perkins and the Celtics.
It was really a pathetic playoff showing by two players who were expected to be key contributors to this team. Next year will see O’Neal gone and the Heat are rumored to want to trade Beasley after seeing this performance.
3rd Quarter Blip Blemishes an Otherwise Fine Effort
This was a game where all five Celtic starters contributed at both ends of the court in a true team win. It was encouraging to see, and bodes well heading into a much tougher series coming up against the Cavaliers. So does getting a quick elimination and some needed rest.
The Celtics had 28 assists on 35 made baskets and held Wade to 10 of 24 shooting and the Heat to .394 % overall. Miami couldn’t hit from downtown and finished just 5 of 20 from the three point arc. The Celtics were 7 of 12 from the arc.
Rajon Rondo led the way with a near triple double, scoring 16 points, to go with 12 assists and 8 rebounds. Rajon added 4 steals and had a number of defense-slicing passes. Though his jump shot was off and he was dared to shoot it, he made all four foul shots and distributed the ball masterfully all night.
Ray Allen knocked down 11 huge 4th quarter points with a number of big threes down the stretch. Ray shot 9 for 15 and 5 of 6 from the three point arc while scoring 20 of his team leading 24 points after half time. Ray also played credible defense on Wade, and had 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in a solid all around game.
Paul Pierce also filled up the box score with an old fashioned Pierce game with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 great blocked shots.
After Miami closed to within 76-82, Garnett made a jump shot on a Pierce pass and Pierce followed that with a lay up off a Rondo pass to push the lead back up to 86-76 with 6:33 left in the game. Paul hit the final Celtic basket of the game with 1:17 left to ice the game at 98-86, on a Glen Davis pass.
The Celtics had their biggest lead of the game 67-46 with 6:56 left on a great Rondo ball fake and behind the back pass to Kendrick Perkins for an open two in the paint. Rondo has taken that ‘And 1’ street style ball fake move and various versions of feign of direction and made it a staple in his arsenal of weapons.
After that, they stopped playing aggressively nor very smart, and the lead shrunk to 6 at 71-65 on three Mario Chalmers free throws after being fouled by Pierce on a three point attempt to close the 3rd quarter.
Kendrick Perkins played well as the Celtics built the big 3rd quarter lead, highlighted by a sensational block of Dwyane Wade from behind with the Celtics up 62-46. Kendrick played 26 minutes, scoring 8 points, while grabbing 6 boards (2 offensive), dishing 2 assists, swatting 3 shots, while adding 4 turnovers.
It was Ray’s 11 point (4 for 6 shooting) 4th quarter, sharp shooting barrage backed up by 5 points each by Pierce and Davis, and 4 more by Kevin that kept the Heat at bay the rest of the way.
Davis Over Sheed
Call it effort over height…or hype. Rasheed Wallace has been a big disappointment this season. The playoffs are what the Celtics got him for. If the Celtics plan to go far, they will need Wallace to play big before too long.
Glen Davis has moved ahead of Rasheed Wallace in the rotation this series and he was on the court with the starting 5 for the 4th quarter as the guy Doc trusted most to help close this game out. Davis contributed 7 points on 2 of 6 shooting, but 3-3 from the line, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Davis also drew a couple of big charging calls for Heat turnovers.
Rasheed Wallace has played more than 13 minutes only once this series and managed only 9 minutes and 2 points in the finale. Davis played 24 plus minutes and he averaged over 21 minutes a game in this series.
When the Celtics play Cleveland (first game is Saturday), it remains to be seen if that will continue. Davis plays Shaq pretty well, but they may need more height, interior defense, and interior scoring against the Cavs. Still, Davis has been a definite spark off the bench for the Celtics in this series.
I think the Celtics may be expecting more from Rasheed Wallace in the next series.
So, ‘the team that got bored’ with the regular season has begun the second season, the NBA playoffs, looking rather good.
The next opponent, the LeBron led Cavaliers, will be a much stronger test, as some believe they could be the next NBA champions.
Boston matches up well against the Cavs and this should a long series between two teams that split the season series 2-2.
Though Boston’s A game has been lacking for large chunks of time this season, their confidence rarely was. Saturday we begin to find out if they will be able to refute their detractors and give hope to a skittish fan base waiting for more tangible evidence that this team is ready to fight for another title.