#4 BOSTON CELTICS 88 @ #2 MIAMI HEAT 101
EAST Finals * Game 7 * Heat WIN series, 4-3
The Boston Celtics can look back at this series and realize that this was a missed golden opportunity. Not many people looked at them as a championship-contending team but yet they were probably a few plays away from going to the NBA Finals. And it was really against all the odds.
But Saturday night proved to be the Miami Heat's night. At the last minute, they realized what they were capable of. They probably should've put this series to bed earlier but the resolve and the resiliency of a team that could be on their last go-round prevented that from happening.
That resolve and resiliency was even there in Game 7. While it was certainly under less pressure, the Clippers did it earlier in these playoffs. If the Clippers could pull off a Game 7 road win, why not the Celtics that has been to two NBA Finals since this core was formed?
Paul Pierce certainly was up to the challenge. He was aggressive from the start; he made two three-pointers in the 2nd. Brandon Bass was up for it. He seemed to make every basket he put up, especially when Kevin Garnett sat down. Ray Allen was up for it even though his ankles were killing him. He has 12 points in the 1st half. Rajon Rondo and Garnett have been up for it right from the start. Where would the Celtics be without their young wizard and the wiley intense veteran?
The Heat players were up to the task as well. Don't you think LeBron James knew what was on the line? Dwyane Wade seemingly has been getting a pass on this series but he knew that if he didn't play well, they'd be facing severe criticism for a long time. Shane Battier has never been to the Finals so we KNEW he wanted this. His three-pointers kept the Heat within striking distance.
The Celtics led as many as 11 points. After a few punches and counterpunches (hi, Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley... good thing that this game isn't decided by judges), the game was tied after three quarters at 73. It was only fitting as this series has been unbelievably close.
Only... that we had forgotten about one man who has been relatively quiet because of his injuries in the previous round. Chris Bosh opened up the Heat fourth quarter scoring with a three-pointer to take the lead from Boston. The teams did continue to trade blows before Ray Allen gave the Celtics the lead back at 82-81.
After a LeBron dunk, Bosh made ANOTHER three to put the Heat up four. LeBron would make another three that he seemingly shot from Tampa. Finally, a Chris Bosh baby hook kept the Celtics away and that started a Heat run. Miami would never look back as the Celtics, try as they might, finally ran out of fuel.
Rondo had a silent triple double (22-10-14). Pierce finished with 19 points, Allen had 15, and Garnett had 14. This might have been their last hurrah as Garnett and Allen are free agents.
But we found out that Miami had something. They endured a 3-2 series deficit and came back to beat those pesky Celtics. LeBron was big with 31 points and 12 boards. Wade finished with 23-6-6. Battier made four three-pointers to finish with 12. And their X-factor, Bosh, finished with 19 points and 8 boards. Bosh being there meant that the Celtics actually had to pay attention to another scoring threat, which helped the other two main guys get free for the Heat had Boston chose to trap him. Now Miami is going back to the NBA Finals where the Oklahoma City Thunder are waiting in the wings.
For the Celtics, it was an outstanding playoff run that fell short. To quote Manny Pacquiao (who seemed to be actually quoting James Ingram from Just Once) from his upset loss against Bradley the same night the Celtics got eliminated, he said, "I did my best. I guess my best wasn't good enough."
But it's not about falling short and consolations; it's about winning. And that's what the Miami Heat did.
Congratulations to Miami.
For a unique recap, check out the Twitter Play-By-Play of Game 7.