Holy. Sweet. Baby. Jesus.
What. A. Game. There are so many but so few words that can describe the awesomeness that was game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. From the Heat working their way back from a 15-point deficit to Rajon Rondo going off for one of the greatest playoff performances you’ll ever see, this game made game 1 its bitch.
Thanks in part to LeBron James posting up the quietest 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists of his career, the Heat were able to come back from 15 points down in the second quarter and eventually push the game to overtime before coming away with a 115-111 victory.
The win now gives the Heat a 2-0 advantage in the series; two games away from making their second consecutive NBA Finals because they’re not a real time, right Broussard?
Dwyane Wade came alive late to score 23 points, Udonis Haslem played a huge role late as well with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Mario Chalmers did a fantastic job at keeping the Heat within reach early in the game before finishing with the most important 22 points of his career.
Chalmers hit three of his six three-pointers after missing all six of his shots from beyond the arc in game 1. The entire Heat team as a whole shot significantly better from the land of three in game 2 going 10-of-26 from deep, with Chalmers and Battier each chipping in three.
Even though the Heat pulled away with a victory and the Celtics are most likely falling apart after a 53-minute game, the real story here is how prolific, fantastic and efficient Rajon Rondo was last night.
It’s easy to dislike this guy if you’re a Heat fan. He’s cocky, talks a lot and is constantly killing the Heat somehow. However, the 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and three turnovers he had in 53 minutes maybe one of the greatest statlines you’ll ever see. Rondo did all of that and he didn’t take one second to get rest on the bench in the entire game.
James played the second most amount of minutes at 47:39, which is just as much an accomplishment when you think about it.
Rondo had it going all night. The Heat kept leaving his mid-range jump shot open and he took advantage by converting seven of his nine shots from beyond 15 feet. Once Rondo gets his jump shot in gear, he’s nearly impossible to stop. He knows how to use the pick-and-roll, is too fast for the Heat’s point guards and can finish around the rim as well as any other player in this league.
Most of all, however, he was making his jumper and there was simply no way of denying his drives and his passes, while also limiting his mid-range game. He also shot 10-of-12 from the foul line and 2-of-2 from beyond the arc on two late three-pointers that wanted to make the Heat shit their pants just one more time before the game ended.
Hate the guy all you want, but you have to give him respect for that admirable performance.
In the end, however, it’s the Miami Heat going into Boston with the 2-0 lead they were hoping for. As mentally tough as the Celtics are, it’s going to be tough to believe that they’re going to recover from a loss that demoralizing. Blowing a 15-point lead and watching a legendary effort by Rondo go for naught is going to hurt this team in games 3 and 4.
Also, they’re going to be tired as all hell. Ray Allen isn’t built to play 43 minutes anymore; just like Paul Pierce isn’t built to play 43 minutes and Kevin Garnett isn’t fit to play 45. That’s the problem with having no bench, it forces those three older gentlemen to play a significant amount of minutes that they shouldn’t be playing.
That Celtics team is tired. They threw every kind of punch they could at the Heat and it still meant nothing in the end. They did an excellent job at double-teaming Wade and James in the first half, but were unsuccessful in a larger light because they still allowed Mario Chalmers to keep the Heat in the game. A seven-point lead at the half replaced what could have easily been a 20-point lead.
Then the third quarter came along and the Heat did what they do best in those 12 minutes–play excellent defense and efficient offense. Miami outscored Boston 35-22 in the third and it seemed at that point the Celtics wouldn’t be able to recover.
However, Boston made its comeback because of Erik Spoelstra’s decision to take LeBron James out for a few minutes too long. Regulation ended after James missed a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer. He was being guarded by the 6’2″ Rondo at the time, which leaves you to question why he didn’t just drive it.
On the play before, LeBron James left Ray Allen wide-open on the three-point line to defend the layup of Keyon Dooling in a three-point game. Upon seeing that, this is what happened to me, which explains why I didn’t write this recap last night:
James’ decision making in the fourth quarter is incredibly suspect and it has been for awhile. I have no doubt that the guy can make shot-after-shot in that period, but it’s decisions like leaving the best three-point shooter in NBA history wide-open and taking a 20-foot jumper over someone six inches smaller that always have me scratching my head down to the skull.
Once overtime came, Dwyane decided that it was his time to take over. Wade scored eight of his 23 points in overtime with this sensational layup over Kevin Garnett being the dagger:
Oh, Wade kicked Garnett? Tell that to Kevin Garnett’s hand located firmly on Wade’s elbow.
Speaking of which, the Heat got a lot more free throws than the Celtics; a 47-29 to be exact. Actually 41-29 if you don’t want to include the six free throws that came off intentional fouls in overtime. Boston also finished the game with 33 personal fouls compared to the Heat’s 18. Paul Pierce fouled out.
It still gives no reason for anyone to complain. This should be the expected results of when an older team attempts to play defense against an extremely athletic club. Boston doesn’t have the individual defenders to stay in front of LeBron James, which explains why he ended up taking 24 free throws.
Also, it’s not like the free throws played too large a part considering the Heat MISSED 16 OF THEM. In the end, the Heat’s advantage in the free throw department was a mere 31-26 edge. It’s been the story all year of how the Heat can’t close out the opposition because of their poor free throw shooting, but this is one of the few times where they still managed to come away with a victory.
The Celtics didn’t go down without a fight that’s for sure. It was an admirable effort from a Celtics team that was believed to have nothing left in the tank after an embarrassing performance in game 1. While we can point out that they could barely beat the Philadelphia 76ers, you also have to understand that Rondo gives the Heat an incredibly tough time in every meeting.
I doubt we’ll see a game like this from Rondo again, which is why the Heat will end up winning this series in five games after Boston most likely takes one of their home games.
The Heat are two games away from the NBA Finals and Chris Bosh’s trainer recently said that he may be back before then.
It’s a good thing a game like game 2 occurred because I sure did not want to hear the talk of this team possibly being better without Bosh.