With an overtime win on Monday night, the Miami Heat has put the Boston Celtics on ice and has grabbed a commanding 3-1 series lead. It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Celtics and a hard-fought battle for a majority of the game.
The Celtics found themselves in a very familiar situation at the end of the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 86 with just over 19 seconds remaining. Not only was it a very familiar situation, but it was also one that Boston had experienced success on several occasions. But Monday’s events had an entirely different outcome.
On a team who usually excels and a coach who prides himself in late-game execution, the final seconds of the game could have not gone more terribly wrong. Instead of capitalizing on a golden opportunity to even the series and swing all the momentum back in the Celtics favor, they looked like a bunch of discombobulated teammates scrambling around the court unable to avoid running into one another on what appeared to a simple high, pick-and-roll screen for Paul Pierce at the top of the key.
The confusion led to very well-defended, last-second heave from Pierce which really had no shot of ever going in. The miss of course forced overtime where the Celtics completely folded and got outscored 12-4. In the final 5:19 of the game and overtime period the Celtics blew the game and probably a chance at winning this series.
The inability to set a screen for Paul Pierce was not the only problems Kevin Garnett had in this crucial game. One game after one of KG’s most impressive playoff performances in recent memory, he pulled a repeat of Game 1 and was unable to produce in game that C’s needed him most.
He was absolutely pathetic from the field only managing to make one shot out of ten, and after embarrassing Heat defenders on the low post in the previous game; he failed to even make any attempt to mount any sort of effective low-post attack.
Even Rajon Rondo managed to score ten points (4-7 FGs) playing with basically one arm! Like Dwayne Wade stated in his last post-game press conference, I am also not a doctor, but I was under the impression that dislocated elbows were not contagious. Apparently Garnett was unaware of this mostly common medical knowledge. It was a truly puzzling and frustrating performance, and one that I’m afraid the Celtics will not be able to recover from going forward.
The Miami Heat had not won a game in Boston all year, but they certainly picked an opportune time to do so. The less original “Big 3”, or “the Heatles”, as they so cleverly dubbed themselves, completely dominated the Celtics’ three stars, outscoring them 83-51. Ray Allen did not have a horrible game, as he scored 17 points, but he failed to convert several wide-open jumpers that we are so accustomed to seeing him make.
This one stung. No doubt about it. Especially considering the defensive game plan against the Heat seems so simple — Stop any one of their version of the “Big 3” and they simply cannot win. We saw it first hand with Chris Bosh in game 3. I know it’s obviously easier said than done, but no other player on their roster had more than four points in the game! Hopefully The C’s can pull it together and make the necessary adjustments to replicate the results from their lone victory in the series.
An injured and noticeably hindered Rondo makes the task at hand all the more daunting. If the Celtics want to advance they’ll need to channel their early-season mojo in which they rattled off three consecutive wins over Miami to start the season. However, more recent history might allude to the record in the previous five meetings, during which the Heat have completely turned the tables and compiled a 4-1 record against Boston.
It’s definitely not an impossible hole to climb out of though. As Boston sports fans we should certainly know that it’s not over ‘Ëœtil it’s over. A visit and pep talk from Jon Havlicek seemed to inspire the Celtics prior to a game 3 victory. Perhaps a few members from the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox should stop by the locker room before each of their next few games. I’m pretty sure that may cause a few schedule conflicts with the baseball regular season in full swing, but this is the playoff we’re talking about here, and desperate times call for desperate measures.