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LeBron James misses free throw as Celtics top Heat for third time

Feb 13, 2011, 4:06 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

If you hate LeBron James, as much of the Western world does, today was quite a day for you. After being largely the only reason the Miami Heat were even in the game against the Boston Celtics, James clanged the first of two free throws down two with ten seconds left, then failed to save the inbounds pass he deflected. Celtics 85 Heat 82. Boston wins for the third straight time this season, wins the season series, and dominates the Heat in the third quarter despite missing three key players. At this point, no one in their right mind believes Miami has a shot against Boston in an expected Eastern Conference Finals.

The game was relatively close, with the Heat leading at halftime thanks to some smart ball movement and sound defense. In reality, this game was close because both teams played terribly. As you’d imagine in a 85-82 game, the offenses were both horrific. Final offensive efficiencies were 97.7 for Boston and 94.3 for Miami. A slow paced game with low efficiency. The very model of “playoff basketball” which was downright painful to watch for most of the game. The Heat turned the ball over 17% off the time, thanks in large part to one of Dwyane Wade‘s worst games in memory, as far back as… the last time he played the Celtics.

For whatever reason, the Celtics have the book on Wade. He got the same kind of fadeaways he’s hit for years, the same kind of floater opportunities, the same kinds of baseline runners he always hit. And yet he shot 6-17 from the floor, with 6, count ‘em, 6 turnovers, as the Celtics’ work of bringing constant ball pressure simply melted him down.

For the Celtics? Just about as ugly of a game. Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen combined to shoot 10-34 from the field, including an 0-10 performance from Paul Pierce. Kevin Garnett led all Celtics with 19, but in reality, it was the bench, short-handed as it was, that carried the Celtics. Glen Davis had 16 point son 6-11 shooting and Von Wafer dropped in 10 points including two huge second half three-pointers. But really, it was the Celtics defense, constantly pressuring, constantly contesting, doing what they’ve done for seasons, and dragging this game down into the mud. The Heat almost never got out in transition, missed open threes, and failed to draw fouls, even when they were fairly obvious.

The story will be James, despite 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists to go with 4 turnovers, and he was the best player on the floor for the Heat, and that’s with Chris Bosh dropping 24 points on 11 shots with 10 rebounds. Sounds like a great game, right? Bosh was once again pushed around, muscled out, and generally overpowered by a tougher, stronger, more determined Boston squad. Bosh may have been the biggest reason the Heat scored all day, but he was also the biggest reason the Celtics’ frontcourt wound up with 40 points between Garnett, Davis, and Kendrick Perkins.

So now the Heat have lost three straight to the Celtics, and have been outclassed in each, despite relatively narrow margins. They had every reason to win this game, needed to win this game, had an opportunity to win this game. But just as before, they failed to show the kind of cohesion, focus and effort.

And LeBron missed a free throw.

Notes:

  • Bosh did the majority of his damage off the pick and pop, which he should. The Celtics were determined to attack James again on the drive and surrender mid-range jumpers, and Bosh hurt them. But not enough in the end.
  • The Heat’s ball movement when it wasn’t turning the ball over was actually excellent. They created open looks with the extra pass and played with precision.
  • The Celtics on the other hand just buckled down and played playoff basketball. Nothing fancy, just simple passes leading to tough, contested shots that they forced down.
  • Anyone who enjoyed watching this game, Boston or Heat fan, is a masochist.
  • Ray Allen popped a wide open three in transition after stripping Wade in the first quarter. From then on out, the Heat did a good job of running him off the perimeter.
  • Joel Anthony finished with a +5 in this game, which should probably destroy this metric for all time, and I like the metric. Anthony was constantly out of position, gave up offensive rebounds, failed to close off the baseline, and was often scrambling to recover.
  • Rajon Rondo played with great defensive intensity, bodying up LeBron in the post, though he was clearly afforded more contact by the officials because of his size.
  • Mike Miller had an open look at the game winning shot, but as usual, the Heat’s execution wasn’t quite right, and Miller wound up with an off-balance three that missed badly. Oh, and Wade missed a tip back attempt just for good measure (the Heat would have still been down 1).
  • Mario Chalmers had two bad plays and was essentially yanked for the remainder of the game. Considering how Wade played running point, you have to wonder about that decision.
  • Rajon Rondo had a triple-double and shot 50% from the field.

(For more on Heat-Celtics III check out our official recap.)

  1. beantownsports247 - Feb 13, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Great game by the celtics , with a bunch of KEY injuries , and paul pierce shooting as bad as he did , Heat can’t hang with the Celtics , especially when they are healthy.

    • borderline1988 - Feb 13, 2011 at 7:44 PM

      Enough with the talk about the Celtics being “banged up”.
      Jermaine O’neal will never to be healthy enough to make any type of impact, so I wouldn’t even consider him ‘injured’. Marquis Daniels is like the 9th guy on the depth chart?
      The only guy they were really missing was Shaq, but it’s debatable if he really makes them a much better team (I’d take Perkins over him at this point in their career any day of the week).

      Fact: The Celtics are still among the 3 deepest teams in the league even when they are all ‘banged up’. Their championship lineup was on the floor, and their bench still produced mightily. The Celtics won’t be ‘better’ come playoff time, they’ll be the same team. Miami just has to find some way to defeat them.

  2. vicktator - Feb 13, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    choking against the celtics made him think of his cleveland days

  3. brady2welker - Feb 13, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Boston handled it good stuff get off em heat u cant hang

  4. boxingfan1019 - Feb 13, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    The funniest, and most misleading part in this story: “For the Celtics? Just about as ugly of a game. Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen combined to shoot 10-34 from the field, including an 0-10 performance from Paul Pierce.”

    Oh, so you mean Rondo and Allen went 10-24? lol. Doesn’t sound as bad when you take Pierce out of that equation huh.

  5. chipsahoy82 - Feb 13, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    It’s just a matter of time until lebron quits on the heat. King sized talent but a tiny heart and no backbone.

  6. cur68 - Feb 13, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Aw jeez M&M, lay off Chris Bosh. WTF the guy gotta do? Not even a dub-dub good enough 4U? I believe one of the scribes herin said that he needed to not put in another ‘eye-rolling’ performance or some such. Isn’t the double-double exactly NOT eye rolling but yet U still lay into him? Why? The Heat played pretty good defensive basketball with questionable choices drawing fouls on O, it is true, but any time you hold Pierce, Rondo & Allen off the highlight reel you’ve done SOMETHING right, haven’t you? Since you claim Bosh was pushed around all night, who was playing that defense then? Who kept those guys in check and who carried the scoring load for the Heat then? As far as scoring, and rebounding, who was doing that then? Wasn’t it Bosh? It seems he’s gotta drop 50 or something before you say he played well. I believe you quite legitimately asked where the !%$# were James and Wade all night. But lay off Bosh. He did rather well against a tough squad playing excellent D. And really, in the end both teams played solid defense. They had to for the score to be so low given the prolific nature of their scoring. Both teams have set the offense bar so high that when they turn in an excellent defensive effort you blow a gasket and call it woeful. The Celtics didn’t blow them off the court but since the Heat lost you gotta paint it like it was the WORST ever. Admit it; you had money riding on them, and you’re all bitter. Sack up dude. Some good D got executed 2nite and you lost a Benjamin because the Celts were better at it. Bosh played well, be man and admit it and no ‘buts’.

  7. avermaver - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    I watched the 4th quarter of this game as somebody who doesn’t get to watch the NBA anymore due to I won’t pay inflated cable prices. Anyway I couldn’t get over how dull the game was even though it was so close. Both teams were sloppy and lackadaisical as though they were playing an exhibition. Maybe no NBA team takes the regular season seriously anymore, I don’t know. There was little crispness in passing dribbling etc and I saw little “will to win” in the play of either team’s star players. If this is the best the NBA has to offer these days I can see why the popularity is down.

  8. hnirobert3 - Feb 14, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    The Heat were 4-16 against the top four teams the year they won the championship.

    The Celts went 27-27 down the stretch last year and they probably win the championship if not for Perkins’ knee.

    What does this mean? The regular season means nothing. Going back to Christmas, the Heat manhandled the Lakers. Just two weeks ago they blew out the Magic. Both were away games. The Lakers just beat the Celts and lost to the Magic yesterday. The Celts beat the Magic a week ago and the Heat yesterday.

    We knew this was going to happen when the Heat formed their big three but we need to stop over inflating the importance of these regular season games.

    • passerby23 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      These are all good points, but I might add a little objection. It’s not the wins and losses (and who beats who) in the regular season that is terribly significant, but a trend I don’t see changing in the playoffs. The Celtics big frontline (also missing Shaq) will grind up Miami’s interior presence over a seven-game series and there isn’t much indication that Miami can or will shore that up come playoff time. The other trend is the ability to turn over James and Wade (just like in last year’s playoffs) by constantly pressuring them and wearing them down.

      To borderline1988:
      Daniels and Shaq are two extra bodies that spell valuable minutes for Allen and KG/Perkins respectively. Although their impact doesn’t really show up on the scoresheet, those 10-15 minutes they provide make the starting 5 more impactful. Remember Ray Allen’s 0-13 game last year in Game 3 of the Finals? He looked tired. Maybe he makes one or two on fresher legs and they win the game and series.

      • borderline1988 - Feb 14, 2011 at 6:34 PM

        Good point. Except last time I checked, this was a one-game series. And also, it’s not like Ray Allen or KG played longer…Glen Davis and Von Wafer simply played more minutes, and frankly, those 2 players seemed to outplay Marquis Daniels and Shaq (26 points, 31% of the Celtics points and 43 minutes played between them).

        Maybe in the long run or over a 7 game series, it’s nicer to have more serviceable bodies (I can’t argue that). But in this one game, it made 0 difference. So the statement of ‘Heat still can’t beat Celtics even when they are all banged up’ is just stupid. I can’t wait for the playoffs. I honestly think that the Heat have the talent to beat the Celtics – it just depends on how badly James and Co. really want it and how aggressive they are in attacking Boston’s defense.

  9. ibleedaquaorange - Feb 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    “At this point, no one in their right mind believes Miami has a shot against Boston in an expected Eastern Conference Finals.”
    —-

    Definitely a stretch.

    I heard a good line earlier, which is true, that the first two meetings should essentially be thrown out the window, taking roster overhaul/chemistry issues into account. This was the first “real” game between these teams (and we had a legit chance to pull it out). I’d say a 7-game series starting tomorrow would not be a worrisome proposition for the Heat, especially with Wade’s reputation of bouncing back from below-average performances when it matters.

  10. bceltics1010 - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Whether you’d like to admit it or not you non celtic fans, being 3-0 vs the heat means we own them, and come play offs, we own home court advantage, so get over it.

    • hnirobert3 - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      “We”? Get real.

      • bceltics1010 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        Yes we..don’t you know that yesterdays game determined these facts? get real.

  11. hnirobert3 - Feb 14, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Yes we..don’t you know that yesterdays game determined these facts? get real.

    ———–

    I just think it’s cute that you’re talking about the Celtics like you’re on the team. Good for you. =)

    • bceltics1010 - Feb 14, 2011 at 3:09 PM

      I’ve been a fan since Bird played, so there for, I consider myself a Celtic..get over it :)

      • chicoheat - Feb 14, 2011 at 7:16 PM

        BTW the ONLY way the season record matters is if they are tied at the end of the year as to seeding whoever wins more games will have the home court advantage period …. How ever much you want your Celtics to OWN home court… it may not happen

      • hnirobert3 - Feb 15, 2011 at 7:40 AM

        Fair enough. Being a fan as long as you have you should know the regular season means diddly.

  12. fouldwimmerlaik - Feb 14, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Season record is never a guarantee that one team owns another. NBA history has shown that.

    Rockets were the lowest seeded team (6th?) that ever won a title (in 1995?) Spurs “got owned” by the Cavs in the season only to sweep Cleveland in the Finals.

    However, I could see that the Celtics have the upperhand (me wanting another Lakers-Celtics Finals is irrelevant) given their performances in the three games. No guarantees though as a 7-game series is a totally different ballgame.

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