Game Notes: Celtics at Heat
Heat look extra real against Cs, go up 2-0.
Chants of “USA” by all fans fill the American Airlines Arena. As a change of plans that just happened today, the National Anthem won’t be sung by a guest singer. Instead, every person in attendance will be counted on to sing. This is something out of the ordinary, but it’s great to see especially now as the country is uniting.
Udonis Haslem is still inactive for the Heat along with Erick Dampier.
Celtics start with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal. Shaquille O’Neal is inactive once again for the Celtics. Aleksandar Pavlovic and Avery Bradley are also inactive.
– Just two minutes into the game, Wade shows no fear as he takes the ball right at Jermaine O’Neal for the easy lay-in to get his first score of the night.
– Bosh drives hard to the left and finishes with a tough shot off glass after being fouled by Jermaine, who picked up his second foul six minutes into the game.
– Paul Pierce is taken out of the game pretty early. The injury report says he strained his left foot and should return soon.
– The loudest cheers from Heat fans all night come when Joel Anthony is subbed into the game.
– After a timeout midway through the quarter, LeBron and DWade execute a give-and-go which led to an alley-oop connection. Wade lobbed a pass over the Boston defense and LeBron finished with a slam. Great execution out of the timeout by the Heat. Spoelstra should pat himself on the back for that well-designed play.
– Bibby shows that he has Jimmer-range, making a three-pointer from about 29 feet as the shot clock buzzer expired to give the Heat a 21-20 lead.
– After a miss, Bibby receives the outlet pass and has one man to beat for the bucket. Instead of taking it to Rondo, Bibby waits for LeBron to catch up and hands it off like a quarterback does to his star running back. LeBron finishes with a strong lay-up while getting fouled. Always a good strategy to give the ball to LeBron on a fast break.
– The Heat start off the quarter with a three-pointer from Mike Miller, his first made shot of the postseason.
– Paul Pierce checks back into the game with eight minutes left in the quarter. He looks OK. He’s gonna need to be more than OK if he has to guard LeBron.
– After a substitution LeBron is at power forward for the Heat, and guarding Jermaine while Joel Anthony is on Garnett.
– Rondo is noticeably tired at the free-throw line after running around the court and trying to create some easy buckets for the Celtics. He short-handed both free throws badly.
– The Heat defense is doing a good job of staying in front of their match-ups. They are also doing a good job of rotating to help each other when someone gets beat.
– With 31 seconds to go in the half, Wade turns Garnett around with his patented Euro-step and finishes with the lay-up to complete the fast-break. The Miami crowd goes crazy. This will most certainly be on ESPN‘s top 10.
– Wade crosses-up Ray Allen and sinks a 20-foot jumper as Allen is on the floor to put the Heat up 47-40 going into the half. Hold on a second.
– Rondo gets the inbounds pass and dribbles down the court, and he gets fouled by James Jones.
– Jones fouls Rondo as he went up for a shot to beat the buzzer. The refs gather to deliberate the call and decide that Rondo gets two free throws with one second left on the clock. Rondo makes both free throws to cut the Heat’s lead to 47-42 at half.
– Rondo is being more assertive this half and looking for his own shot, but Bibby is still playing tight defense on him.
– The Celtics are feeding Jermaine and looking for him to go to work on Big Z because Z is not playing well. Within a two-minute span, Ilgauskas commits two fouls, turns the ball over and takes a bad shot. Spoelstra sends in Anthony to take Ilgauskas’ place.
– The Celtics take the lead after Rondo drives on Bibby for a lay-up and a foul. Rondo sinks the free throw to put the Celtics up two.
– LeBron answers back with threes from virtually the same spot on two consecutive possessions.
– After a steal by Wade with three minutes remaining in the quarter, LeBron starts the fast-break, spins away from Rondo and finishes with a simple two-handed slam.
– LeBron capped of his 12-point quarter with a 20-foot jumper as the shot clock was winding down. The Heat lead after three quarters 72-67.
– LeBron continues his streaky shooting by making a mid-range jumper. It looks like he’s heating up.
– About four minutes into the quarter, the Celtics give up an easy dunk to Anthony after a failed double-team on LeBron.
– Midway through the quarter, the Heat lead 83-80.
– The Celtics are feeding Big Baby and looking for him to create off isolation against Anthony and Bosh, but he is taking tough shots that look forced.
– The Heat got a lucky bounce on the next possession when a bobbled ball landed in LeBron’s hands underneath the hoop, which led to a two-handed thunderous slam. Celtics coach Doc Rivers calls a timeout and the Miami crowd erupts.
– Miami is up 92-80 after a 12-0 run in which LeBron scored 7 straight points. Rivers calls another timeout, but it’s not looking good for the Celtics with only four minutes remaining.
– The Heat are making their free throws and draining the clock. Rondo is doing all he can in order to preserve time and get easy buckets. The Heat’s fourth quarter run proved to be too much for the Celtics to come back from. The Heat win 102-91, taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expected his team to take care of business on home court.
“We had to fight for every inch of that court tonight,” Spoelstra said. “It was a very competitive game, and we did what we were supposed to do. At the end of the day, we won our two home games. At some points, it was a tough struggle to get some points on the board, but we had some terrific performances offensively that carried us. Defensively, we grinded. Guys were making multiple efforts even when they broke us down or had an opening. We were able to recover and use our speed and athleticism to make up for it.”
Heat forward Chris Bosh is still seeing growth in his team.
“This is a great team that we’re playing and they’re going to make runs and they’re going to make big plays and the game are going to be tied,” said Bosh who finished with 17 points and 11 boards. “I think it’s how you react. Sometimes you’re going to play good defense and they’re still going to score, but it’s all about how you react and move on to the next play and move on to executing on offense and worrying about getting the next stop. We’ve made a major step forward with that.”
Both Ray Allen and Doc Rivers are disappointed at the way their team closed out quarters.
“One of the things we clearly have to do a better job of is close out quarters,” Rivers said. “They closed out the first quarter on a run. They closed out the second quarter on a run. They closed out the third quarter and then they closed out the game all on runs. We have to figure out a way of finishing quarters better than we did tonight.”
“One of our biggest strong points in our team and how we play the game is closing out quarters,” said Allen who finished with just seven points on 2-7 shooting and five fouls. What we haven’t done in these past two games is close out the quarters well. Whether we’re down, whether we’re up, whether the game is tied, to finish quarters we have given them too many points. We have to be a lot more solid. That’s something where we got to be better at.”