BOSTON - Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have been at the front and center of the Boston Celtics pursuit of their 18th championship banner this postseason. The two are the team's playoff leaders in scoring, and each have provided their own punch in the 18 playoff games the Celtics had played coming into Game 6 against the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
Unfortunately, the Celtics' star duo was nowhere to be found, and their virtual no-show cost the C's a chance to eliminate the Miami Heat in their 98-79 loss that tied the Eastern Conference Finals at 3-3 heading into Game 7 on Saturday night down in South Beach.
Garnett finished with 12 points on 6-of-14 shooting and five rebounds in 31 minutes and Pierce couldn't find his shooting touch, missing 14 of 18 shots to finish with nine points.
"I don't know," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers when asked if he saw anything different about Garnett and Pierce in the Game 6 loss. "We clearly didn't have the right energy. Like I said, you never know why. Obviously, they came and they wanted to have it."
Rivers credited LeBron James, who had 45 points (30 in first half) for wearing them down.
"Listen, when a guy comes out and throws a barrage on you like that, that takes some energy out of you, and maybe it's as simple as that," Rivers said. "I don't think so, but you just never know."
Garnett echoed his coach, somewhat, saying that his team was amped, maybe too amped.
"Some shots didn't fall that we know we can make," Garnett said. "Everybody in here was pumped up. Everybody was probably too jacked. Didn't transcend in to a win, though."
Ray Allen (10 points) was also baffled by the disappearance of the Celtics' biggest stars.
"It's hard to say, it's hard to say," said Allen. "I know you look at field-goal percentage, they started the game the way they wanted to offensively. We didn't. Again, we make it easy on ourselves when we move the ball around. When we find the easy shot, get into the second and third option. At this point it's Game 6, they know everything we're running as well as we know what they're running. So the small little plays we've been getting and the things they're getting, you're grabbind scratching and clawing for that guy not to get it.
"At this point we have to get to the second and third option, and sometimes the fourth option. It's the difference of getting a rebound. It seems like we got the 50-50 ball in Game 5. Tonight we didn't get into our stuff. We didn't develop or build our own rhythm."
Garnett and Pierce will have one day to get their acts together, with Game 7 being played on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in South Beach. It's a safe assessment that, if these two players have similar games in Game 7 as they did Thursday night, the Celtics may have played their last home game of the Big Three era. Hopefully, that isn't the case.