#4 BOSTON CELTICS 111 @ #2 MIAMI HEAT 115 (OT)
EAST Finals * Game 2 * Heat lead series, 2-0
It was clear what the Celtics wanted. They weren't going to give LeBron James and Dwyane Wade good looks at all. The Heat didn't seem fully prepared for it. Combined with that surprise and poor spacing, Miami didn't have a hot start.
On the other side, Boston was seemingly making everything. Rajon Rondo, in particular, was hitting nearly every perimeter jumper Miami was giving him. Of course, the narrative here is to let Rajon Rondo shoot those jumpers but people probably didn't know that he's not so horrible from 16-23 feet. He shot 39 percent from that area, which is actually the same as an "improved" Tony Parker.
The Celtics led as many as 15 points in the second quarter but Mario Chalmers kept them within striking distance. Finally, Wade scored his first bucket before the half ended and the Heat were able to chop the lead down to 53-46. At least, Wade was no longer an invisible man for the Heat.
Boston was shooting so hot in the first half that they were going to come down to Earth in the second half. At the same time, Miami started hitting some jumpers. Then they had a huge 12-0 run near the end of the third quarter. It looked like, despite all of Boston's efforts, that Miami was going to run away with the game.
But Boston countered with an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to take an 88-85 lead. Later on, a Shane Battier three tied the game at 94. The Heat were ahead, 99-96, with 47 seconds left when Ray Allen (DUH!) hit a 3 that tied the game. LeBron James missed a jumper that would've won the game in regulation and that got everyone that's a non-LeBron fan excited, of course. But the Celtics were going into the extra period with no Paul Pierce, who had fouled out.
Rondo single-handedly carried the Celtics in OT. But when they were deadlocked at 105, the referees missed this Wade swipe on a difficult Rondo lay-up.
The Heat took advantage by going five-on-four while Rondo was on the floor. Udonis Haslem, who had made big shots for them all game, gave the lead to Miami for good after his slam. Rondo, incredibly, made two three-pointers at the end to give the Celtics slight hope but freethrows by the Heat put it away. Miami is now up, 2-0.
Let me rant here for a little bit. About that Wade foul on Rondo that the refs missed? Okay. So they missed it. One play shouldn't decide the game. It shouldn't have come to that. There were chances by Boston earlier to put the game away... and even after that foul, Boston had plenty of chances to stop Miami. They didn't so they go home with a loss.
I confess to not even seeing that foul in real-time. Did I wonder if there was a foul? Sure. But these are bang bang calls... so if I was a ref, then I would've missed it. Should the refs have seen it? Perhaps.
Now conspiracy theorists are going to have a ball. But regardless of who won that game, it doesn't even matter. "Oh, the NBA wanted Miami to win!" "Oh, Stern wanted Boston to go to the Finals!" But see, if Boston thought the refs weren't being fair... try this one for size. And this one, too.
Also, Miami took 18 more freethrows than Boston... and the Celtics fouled the Heat 15 more times. But here's a newsflash: how was an old Celtic team supposed to defend possibly the most athletic team in the league in Miami? How are they supposed to stop them? Dirty tricks, right? Fouling them, right? Hope the Heat miss foul shots, right?
Let's just accept that the referees are going to be horrible at times. But at the same token, let's see other people officiate a game. Refereeing everywhere is difficult and horrible (I should know; I played in a rec league where officiating was ALSO horrible). Basketball has a lot of bang bang calls. They're not going to be perfect so teams have to adjust to them. In this sport, there are plenty of chances to make up for missed calls, missed baskets, and missed plays. Basketball games DO NOT come down to one play.
You wanna know Rajon Rondo's statline despite the loss? He played all 53 minutes and put in 44 points (16/24 shooting), 8 rebounds, and 10 assists, UN-FRIGGIN'-BELIEVABLE. Pierce had 21 points, who was definitely needed in OT. And Garnett had 18 points in an otherwise horrible performance.
LeBron didn't have the best shooting game (7/20) but he had 34-10-7 (18/24 freethrows). It'll go unappreciated because he didn't hit the game-winning shot. Wade had 23 points. Super Nintendo Chalmers was handy on pulling the Chrono Trigger in that game; he had 22 big points. And Haslem was really key today with his 13 points and 11 boards.
It was a valiant effort by the Celtics. They made Wade and LeBron work hard. And Rondo had his supernova game. And it still wasn't enough. Plus the Celtics have to be tired (especially with Rondo going the distance). This game is as deflating as you can get. Will they have enough juice in Game 3? Once again, home games can do wonders for some teams. I don't count on Miami playing this bad again but can the Celtics put on another performance like this? Because I'm not sure if Rondo can repeat that kind of play again (although, yes, some of the Celtic players CAN play better).
Top this one, #THUNDERSPURS.