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Heat exorcise some demons in win over Celtics

Apr 10, 2011, 7:06 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Getty Images

Let’s get this out of the way for the Boston faithful. The season series? Already went to the Celtics 3-0. The Celtics still have a good shot at the second seed and homecourt advantage in the second round. It was a mid-April game in the last week of the regular season for a Boston team that notoriously does not care, and cannot be bothered by the regular season. There is every reason to wince at the sting here and move on, confident that the Celtics will put in a performance like they did against the East last year, blowing past everyone once the second season started. One game, in the regular season, means very little.

But man, 100-77? Anyone who says they saw that coming is lying.

The Heat took it to the Celtics’ front door on Sunday, and the result has to at least carry an ounce of doubt into Boston’s heart of hearts. Everything that could go wrong for the Celtics, did. Everything that could go right for the Heat, did. Rajon Rondo, who blistered the Heat in the first three meetings had 5 assists and 3 turnovers, and shot just 3-8. Dwyane Wade, who was plagued by disoriented, terrible play in the first three meetings, had a huge impact, driving, kicking and playing tremendous defense.

The result is even more mind boggling for Boston since they started so strongly. The first six minutes of the game were a continuation of what we’d seen from the Heat and Celtics in October. Crisp, clean ball movement from Boston. Sloppy, slow, isolated play from Miami. Then suddenly, the Heat started clawing, and worked their way into a small lead. The third quarter was all Miami. The game? The game was all LeBron’s.

27 points on 19 shots, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and a block for James, who for once used his aggression at the rim to create opportunities for his jumper instead of the other way around. The real turning point of the game? When Jermaine O’Neal decided to send a message, and wound up waking up the Heat.

That started a run of chippy play in which the Heat were the aggressor. Chris Bosh picked up a technical for arguing a call on a scramble, and then turned that, no joke, into some seriously tough play. Bosh had a huge block in the third, and then a crucial and-one to stop a Celtics run in the fourth. Instead of pulling up for the fadeaway J, Bosh went right at the rim, absorbed the contact and finished.

But if you want to get past all this and into what really killed the Celtics, after James? The Celtics nabbed 10% of all available offensive rebounds, just 3 of them. 3. The Heat? They grabbed 40% of all available misses on offense, for 15 extra possessions.

No one wants to say Kendrick Perkins‘ name here. But it’s unavoidable. The Celtics were a terrible team on the offensive glass even with Perkins. But they weren’t this bad, and at least they could prevent the other team from getting that many. The key with offensive rebounds isn’t getting your own, it’s preventing the other team from getting them. Makes it that much harder to defend, that much harder to keep your defense set, that much harder to maintain position. Perkins may not have nabbed any himself, but he would have helped to keep Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony from getting nine total.

The Celtics can dismiss this. They’ve earned the right after turning on the afterburners and blazing past the East last year in the playoffs after a terrible end to their regular season that went on for months. But there’s no way to stop the concerns being spoken in Boston about this team after the trade. They don’t seem like the Celtics of old, in attitude or execution. No one’s counting them out. But even in a single loss in the season series they’ve already won, this game brings with it even more erasers being taken out for the Celtics’ penciled spot in the Finals.

Some notes:

  • Jeff Green was put on LeBron James for a stretch in the 3rd and 4th quarters, as he was brought on in part to match up with LeBron. That did not work out well. And when I say that, I mean it in the same way that I say “going swimming did not work out well for that girl in the beginning of “Jaws.”
  • Glen Davis is in a bad, bad place right now. And instead of getting back to what he does best, attacking the glass, getting easy and sometimes overly difficult ridiculous shots underneath, drawing fouls, he’s operating space, relying on his jumper, trying to replicate Kevin Garnett‘s pick and pop range abilities. Davis was 3-11 Sunday. Glen Davis took more shots than Ray Allen.
  • Speaking of Allen, Wade did a phenomenal job closing out on him on three-pointers. Instead of giving up as he had in the first three meetings, he committed to running Allen off. The result was Allen going 4-9 for just 13 points. Containment.
  • Joel Anthony had the game of his life Sunday with 7 points and 10 boards, including a nice dunk off a LeBron drive, spin and dish off. He played aggressively on defense, disrupted passing lanes, and played with energy. If the Heat are going to get role players to step up in the playoffs, Anthony playing well would be a huge boon.
  • Mike Miller sprained his thumb in the first half, and did not return.
  • Juwan Howard hit a shot. That’s how bad things got.
  1. zackd2 - Apr 10, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    Yeah, but, yeah, well, um, yeah, but, uhh just wait until Shaq comes back!

    • andyhr17 - Apr 10, 2011 at 8:12 PM

      Funny how cocky people get after one win. The Heat are now 1-6 against the Celtics and Bulls but after one game the Heat are now unstoppable? It was an impressive win for them and the Celtics looked like they only half-cared. I’m not panicking for my Celtics until something like this happens in May.

      And the whole “wait till Shaq comes back” rally cry for Celtics haters is getting quite old. Think up something new.

      • jstrizzle - Apr 10, 2011 at 8:49 PM

        Yeah, but, yeah, um, you just wait until May!

      • andyhr17 - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:01 PM

        Ask LeBron how important it is to rack up wins in the regular season. That’s always ended really well for him.

      • jstrizzle - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:11 PM

        So you state the regular season record of the Heat vs the Bulls and Celtics and follow that up with an insult on Lebron for winning a lot of games during the regular season in years prior? I’m sensing a disconnect.

      • zackd2 - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:24 PM

        “And the whole “wait till Shaq comes back” rally cry for Celtics haters is getting quite old. Think up something new.”

        Why? That’s the drum that Celtic fans keep beating.

      • scorp16 - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:46 PM

        “The Heat are now 1-6 against the Celtics and Bulls but after one game the Heat are now unstoppable?”

        And….The Celtics are 0-2 this year against the Rockets…what’s your point? Season series mean nothing.

        The fact of the matter is that Miami, Chicago and Orlando are all playing better basketball than the Celtics right now and that should be a concern.

        Rondo was interviewed after today’s game about how things turned out last year after a late season collapse.. his response…”This is not the same team as last year..everything is different”

      • andyhr17 - Apr 10, 2011 at 10:16 PM

        Let me clarify my comments after being bashed for it. I wasn’t saying that because the Celtics are 3-1 vs the Heat, or that the Heat are yet to beat the Bulls means that in the playoffs the same thins will happen. My point was exactly the opposite. My point was that now the Heat have finally beat the Celtics and now all Heat fans are saying how the Heat are now the superior team and will knock the Celtics out in the second round. Nothing really matters during the regular season except seeding for the playoffs. After that, it a whole new game. My comment about LeBron was not a 180 on my previous statement, it was directly related. Impressive how so many people can read my statement, interpret the opposite way it was meant to be read, and post as much negative comment about the Celtics that they can.

      • hnirobert3 - Apr 10, 2011 at 10:23 PM

        So the Celts beat up on a Heat team that has been together for 10 minutes and it’s okay to be cocky? Big difference between game 1 and game 80, buddy.

        Side note: Thanks Danny Ainge

        Signed, Miami

      • andyhr17 - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        Where in any of that did I say anything about being cocky because the Celtics beat the Heat? Once again, people taking comments that were not said, and using that to bash people.

      • cordae - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:27 PM

        ” The Heat are now 1-6 against the Celtics and Bulls but after one game the Heat are now unstoppable”

        Then you go on to say…

        “Ask LeBron how important it is to rack up wins in the regular season. That’s always ended really well for him.”

        Not to reiterate what jstizzle said, but dude, you SAID this, no ones pulling it from their a**…

  2. scorp16 - Apr 10, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    “Let’s get this out of the way for the Boston faithful. The season series? Already went to the Celtics 3-0. The Celtics still have a good shot at the second seed and homecourt advantage in the second round. It was a mid-April game in the last week of the regular season for a Boston team that notoriously does not care, and cannot be bothered by the regular season.”

    Dude really. Do you actually understand basketball or do just sit on your couch yelling “that was a good dunk”

    First the Celtics have a “shot” at second seed not a “good shot” but a shot all the same. And that’s provided the Heat don’t come out against Atlanta flat and that the Celtics beat the Knicks. Heat are in the driver’s seat for the second seed. That does not make it a “good shot” for the Celtics.

    Are you really basing your logic around the fact the Celtics went 3-1 against the Heat in the regular season? Even though 2 of those games were in a late October and early November games for team that had barely played together? (What makes this fact different than your mid-April analogy?)

    Okay, so by your logic (or lack of): If the Heat face the Lakers in the Finals well, since they’re 2-0 against the Lakers in the regular season well I guess we should just tell Miami not to bother showing up and the NBA will just Fedex them the trophy.

    Guess we should tell SVG if they have to face the Bulls in the 2nd round that he can get an early start on golf. After all Chicago won the series 3-1. It’s not really important that Howard didn’t play in the last game that they lost by 3.

    • philtration - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:00 PM

      Actually the Bulls swept Miami this year.

      • scorp16 - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:12 PM

        SVG is Stan Van Gundy – Coach of the Magic (Not the Heat)…Read up on your basketball a bit before you post. And if you don’t understand a post…ask.

        Let’s not start annointing Chicago just yet. The Magic match up against them extremely well.

        Let’s not also forget the Heat played without Lebron the first game (3pt loss) and held double digit leads in both the last two games. If you think this guarantees the Bulls a series win…..Good Luck…..

      • hnirobert3 - Apr 10, 2011 at 10:24 PM

        Pretty sure he was talking about Magic/Bulls and not Heat/Bulls.

      • andyhr17 - Apr 10, 2011 at 10:29 PM

        How can someone dislike this comment? It’s a factual statement. Disliking this comment is saying that you dislike facts.

  3. btanner17 - Apr 10, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    i dont care how much the celtics usually don’t try at the end of the season. this game was very important for both sides, because it is probably going to determine playoff seeding. The heat just dominated them.

  4. jstrizzle - Apr 10, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    I have never seen so much love for a future 3 seed. Where is the article proclaiming Dallas as the shoe in for the Finals. Every time the Celtics win it is because they are a veteran team with good defense and team play. Whenever they lose it is because of back to backs or because they are coasting to the playoffs.

    I will give this article props as it didn’t explains some dents in the Celtics armor. That 3 seed is looking dangerous with the Knicks sitting at 6.

    • andyhr17 - Apr 10, 2011 at 8:59 PM

      Because this is an ant-Celtics comment, it will get lots of thumbs up.

      • zackd2 - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:25 PM

        Because this is a pro-Celtics comment, fans with blind faith will give it a thumbs up because Danny Ainge told me this team is better

  5. 305phinphan - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    It’s funny how Celtic fans bring up the other games this season against the Heat. Do you not realize that tonight was the biggest game of the season for both the Celtics & the Heat? The Celtics CHOKED!!!!!! In a game as clutch as this one to get BLOWN out shows that the Celtics will not get passed Miami in the playoffs (if the Celtics even make it that far). Little hoes Garnett & Pierce didn’t get there BS fall down fouls this game. The Celtics are a dirty team, the only one that has class is Ray Allen (maybe Rondo). The rest of them are scum, along with 99.9% of their fan base. It’s a great night to be a Miami Heat fan and pretty much claim that number 2 seed. Goodnight Boston losers I’m going to sleep really good tonight, HAHAHAHAHAHA……GO HEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • andyhr17 - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:41 AM

      Go ahead and bash Boston’s fans. At least they make it to the games and don’t need PR campaigns trying to get fans to come watch them play.

  6. hnirobert3 - Apr 10, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    Play of the night that completely swung momentum was Jermaine “Zombie” O’Neal trying to be a tough guy (ala Bosh) and throw a shoulder at LBJ. Where the F was that the last two years in Miami, JO? I’m surprised he didn’t dislocate his arm when they collided.

    My honest perception of the game was that Boston came in and figured they’d sleepwalk to a win… and Miami surprised him by being aggressive throughout the game and just out hustled them. If they meet in the second round it’s going to be a dog fight.

    The Hurricanes of the 80′s were first and now the Heat… Miami vs. The World. Love it.

    • andyhr17 - Apr 10, 2011 at 10:32 PM

      I’m really hoping these two teams get to meet in the playoffs. So far they’ve played at the beginning of the season when the Celtics dominate everyone and they’ve played at the end of the season when everyone dominates the Celtics. Both teams should be at their best if/when they meet again.

  7. Kansachusetts - Apr 10, 2011 at 11:50 PM

    Well, I predicted it, and I’m not lying. The Celtics are tired and they have a big hole in their middle and a second team that is completely out of whack. They can get up for every other game, and they had to get up to beat Washington the other night. I don’t think they’ll beat Washington tomorrow though.

    Rondo is running on plantar fasciitis, and he can only fight through it every other game. Danny Ainge screwed the pooch, so to speak.

    Shaq in the middle through the playoffs is their only answer. And Shaq’s body hasn’t signed the contract yet.

  8. miamiwinning - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    Personally i think this was a important game for either team to win! Putting all the other B@**S#)^ statistics aside you can clearly see the way which direction both teams are headed, even though I’m hugely biased Celtics are terrible without Perkins they’ve lost the fear factor while the Heat are just starting to build there’s.

  9. mornelithe - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Yeah, everyone was all up in arms about the Celtics performance same time, last year. And then they went on to smoke, entirely, the two teams with the best records in the league in the playoffs. Go figure. People just never learn.

    If all the Celtics have in their tank is what showed up last night, then this’ll be a moot point and they’ll be out of the playoffs before they even meet the Heat. Personally, I think they simply decided to coast once again, to keep everyone as healthy and refreshed as possible. I doubt Rivers wanted to see any of his players face injury as tempers started to flare on the court.

    • andyhr17 - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      Prepare to get bashed for this comment because no one here has a long term memory.

      • mornelithe - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:48 AM

        To be bashed, those doing the bashing would need even the smallest modicum of intelligence. Considering all of the other comments, I don’t think I’m in any danger.

  10. andyhr17 - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Haha. I don’t know who you are, but I like you.

    • mornelithe - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      I’m noone special really, I like Boston (I’m Irish), but my life doesn’t hinge on their success. I’ve followed basketball closely enough to know this is Boston’s modus operandi, however. The team that shows up for the last leg of the season, is simply not what shows up in the playoffs. People who prophesize their doom after the 3rd or 4th to the last game of the regular season, probably also thought the Magic or Cavaliers were going somewhere in the playoffs last year.

  11. andyhr17 - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Lakers went through rough times this season…no real panic because people knew they’d get back on track. Miami went through a rough spell (with lots of watery eyes) and it was attributed to them still “coming together as a team”. The Celtics has gone through a rough spell the lately at the end of the season (exactly like they did last season) and everyone is dancing on their graves saying how they have no chance of getting out of the second round.

    • mornelithe - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:34 PM

      Not to mention the Celtics have a different looking bench than they did most of the season also. Oh that’s right, Miami’s the only team allowed to flounder for a bit until they get comfortable with everyone.

      • scorp16 - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:35 PM

        “Not to mention the Celtics have a different looking bench than they did most of the season also”

        And…why do you suppose that is?

        Possibly because Danny Ainge outhought himself.

        He took what was the best team in the Eastern Conference at the time, and now has given it the toughest road to a championship. Knicks, Heat, and the Bulls. That’s the road in all likelyhood.

        If your counting on Shaq and Jermaine Oneal having to play physical ball in all of those series to carry you through (which they will) plus staying healthy…..I see health and fatigue factor looming large. The teams they will face this year in the east are by far better than the Miami, Cleveland, and Orlando teams they faced last year.

        Danny Ainge singlehandedly changed the entire complexity of the playoffs…..I tell ya’…Perkins sure did look good against the Lakers. Not just his play, but his intensity.

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