Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals was tough to swallow.
The Celtics were consistent and played well for much of the game, and kept the game close until the final quarter.
However, Miami’s big three outplayed Boston’s big three down the stretch, and Rajon Rondo did not create enough offense with his explosive playmaking ability. As a result, the Heat defeated the Celtics 102-91, and will head to Boston with a 2-0 lead in games.
The central focus of Game 2 was to come out fired up, and for Boston’s star players to establish themselves early in order to avoid another Miami offensive onslaught like the one they suffered in Game 1. Seeking vengeance for his controversial ejection in Sunday’s game, Paul Pierce played decent, but suffered a left foot strain in the first quarter that appeared to affect his jump shot. Overall, Boston’s starters did not play terrible, but ultimately failed to step up down the stretch.
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Wade did not completely dominate the game like he did in Game 1, however Boston was frequently trailing since all of Miami’s big three came out strong (yes, even Bosh). The Celtics were only really able to keep the game close with physical defense, and some big contributions off the bench. Jeff Green and Delonte West had a combined 15 points on 6-7 shooting in the first half. Meanwhile, Rondo finished the game with 20 points and 12 assists, but it would not be enough.
In order to beat the Heat, the Celtics just needed to keep the game close, as Miami has shown all season long that they struggle mightily at closing out opponents in the final minutes of close games. The third quarter was essentially the KG and Rondo show for Boston, but Wade and LeBron continued to step up for the Heat, and Miami’s lead remained at 5 after yet another back and forth quarter. LeBron finished with 35 points. Backup big man Joel Anthony also played Perkins-like for Miami, and filled in for an injured Ilgauskas with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 35 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics could not make their shots in the fourth quarter, and Miami’s lead quickly grew to double digits, where it would remain for the rest of the game. The Heat outplayed the Celtics in the final quarter both in terms of scoring, and in terms of hustle. It isn’t yet time to abandon ship, and this series is coming back to Boston. The Celtics need to adjust, and need to play 48 minutes of Celtics’ basketball… not just 36.