MIAMI, FL - APRIL 10: LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat high five during a game against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on April 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since April 10, 2011
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
Following Thursday night's blowout loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics to a man talked a blue streak about needing to play with more focus, hustle and effort with the playoffs just around the corner. Then, on Sunday, they got blown out again, this time against their chief competition for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat.
After taking an early, 11-2 lead, the C's took the remainder of the afternoon in Miami off, getting outscored 98-66 the rest of the way en route to a 100-77 loss, putting them a game behind the Heat for the second seed. The C's fell behind by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter, then went on a 12-0 run to close Miami's lead to 10 with just over five minutes left, before folding again. Whatever messages were supposed to be conveyed in talking about playing with more effort, passion and hustle after the loss in Chicago must have been forgotten already as the C's were smoked yet again on the boards by a count of 42-26, including a whopping 15-3 on the offensive glass. They were also betrayed once again by their formerly vaunted defense, as the Heat shot 51 percent from the floor.
Paul PIerce led the Celts (55-25) with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, to go with seven rebounds. Kevin Garnett added 21 points but Rajon Rondo, the leader of the "We have to play harder," movement after Chicago, was mostly invisible, finishing with a paltry seven points and five assists. Ray Allen made two early 3-pointers then was barely heard from again, finishing with 13 points. Jeff Green, the centerpiece of the February deal with Oklahoma City, continued to be enigmatic at best and massively disappointing at worst, taking just one shot (which he missed) and ending up four points in 19 minutes. And at the center position, where the Heat feature 36-year old Zydrunas Ilgauskas and D-League castoff Joel Anthony, the C's duo of Jermaine O'Neal and Nenad Krstic barely competed, getting outscored 15-2 and outrebounded 15-1.
LeBron James led all scorers with 27 points and added seven assists, five rebounds and four steals for the Heat. Dwayne Wade scored 14 and Chris Bosh pitched in 13 for the Heat (56-24), who need to finish ahead of the C's to wind up at No. 2 since Boston still holds the tiebreaker despite Sunday's loss. The Celts get back to work on Monday night against the Wizards in D.C.
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
Sunday's the day. The Celtics playoff positioning all comes down to this.
With three games left to go in the regular season, the C's and the Miami Heat, who are both 55-24 and tied for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, will meet at American Airlines Arena at 3:30 p.m. EDT (TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI) to fight for second place in the conference.
The Celtics, who are 9-9 over their last 18 games, probably never envisioned themselves being in this situation, having been in control of the East for the majority of the regular season. But their long swoon that has lasted over a month not only allowed the Chicago Bulls to pass them in the standings and clinch the East's No. 1 seed on Friday night, but also let the Heat, who have had no luck against Boston this year, hang around long enough to make Sunday's nationally televised game relevant.
The C's have the season series results on their side. In the two teams' previous three meetings this season, Boston has gone 3-0, holding Miami to just 89.7 points per game. Although LeBron James and Chris Bosh have put up solid stats against the C's in those three match-ups, Miami's longest tenured superstar, Dwayne Wade, has not. Wade has managed just 12.3 points per game against the C's on a measly 26.7 percent shooting. Keeping Wade down on Sunday will be a big key for the C's if they want to win.
Winners 18 times in their last 20 meetings with the Heat, the Celtics will look to Rajon Rondo to control tempo in this one. Rondo has averaged 14.3 assists per game against the Heat this year and is coming off a 20 point, 14 assist, six steal performance in Friday night's win over Washington.
Additionally, center Nenad Krstic, who will be playing his first game against the Heat in a Celtics uniform on Sunday, had his biggest game in weeks against the Wizards, registering 17 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. Miami's lack of a real inside threat could well make Krstic that much more important. The Celtics will also look to Ray Allen, who has torched the Heat for 22.7 points per game on the season.
Even with a loss on Sunday, the C's aren't necessarily locked into No. 3. They own the tiebreaker against the Heat thanks to the three wins this year and will still have two more chances to catch up against the Wizards on Monday and in their regular season finale at TD Garden against the Knicks on Wednesday.