We knew the Boston Celtics would punch back hard in game 2.
We didn’t expect the Miami Heat to crawl into a corner, assume the fetal position and then cry for 48 minutes.
The Heat dropped game 3 to the Boston Celtics in a most unreasonable fashion by way of a 101-91 loss. The margin of victory doesn’t do it justice as the Celtics found themselves up by 24 early in the fourth quarter. Miami then started trying and cut the Celtics lead down to nine, but couldn’t make the stops nor the shots necessary to stage a comeback of that proportion.
It would have been tough to believe the Heat would stage a 24-point comeback one game after coming back from 15 down in game 2, which was a franchise record. The loss whittles their series lead down to 2-1 with game 4 set to take place Sunday night.
LeBron James had another excellent outing posting up 34 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and three turnovers in 43 minutes, but it was all for naught because of how inept his teammates were. Mario Chalmers had another solid first half, while Dwyane Wade found himself struggling against Boston’s constant double-teams.
Chalmers finished with 14 on 5-of-11 shooting and Wade settled for 18 points on 9-of-20 shooting with the majority of the points coming in the fourth. Dwyane took no free throws, it’s the first time a stat like that has occurred since Wade’s rookie season.
He and LeBron combined to take five free throws. This comes a game after the two combined for 35 free throws. I’m not going to fall into the conspiracy theory deal, but a 30-free throw attempt swing is staggering. It didn’t really matter, however, as the Heat hit half of their 20 free throws.
James shot 1-of-5 from the foul line and Chalmers hit 3-of-6. Out of seven players who shot free throws, Joel Anthony was the only one to convert 100 percent of his free throws by going 2-for-2.
This game was so much more than the sudden change in the free throws. Simply put, LeBron and Dwyane couldn’t find a way to break through the Celtics defense and didn’t get the usual contact that leads to free throws. There wasn’t much of an attempt, either. The two settled for jumpers early and often, which became a trend throughout the game.
It just begs the question why these two aren’t posting up their defenders on every single possession. LeBron James is capable of getting great position on an aged and ailing Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade can score on Ray Allen, Keyon Dooling or Rajon Rondo at will when his back is to the basket.
Since they weren’t posting up, the ball stuck at the perimeter and they essentially relied on jumpers to bail them out on every possession.
The Heat had no answer for the Celtics defense. At one stretch, Miami didn’t score a field goal for nearly eight minutes; a stretch that went through the end of the first quarter until midway through the second quarter. Boston took advantage by outscoring Miami 25-14 in the second.
Miami couldn’t pull off their usual third quarter heorics as they decided to give the Celtics 30 points in a 12-minute frame for the second time. The Heat continued to play small ball which led to more jumpers on offense and more easier shots for Kevin Garnett under the rim.
Garnett finished with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with 11 boards, a huge improvement from a disappointing game 2.
Rajon Rondo fell down to earth by chipping in 21 points, 10 assists and six boards. A 44-point outing wasn’t a necessity; his teammates were prolific on each side of the court. With Garnett’s defense and ability to constantly find him under the net, likely due to a mismatch, Boston was able to pound the paint via 58 points in the paint.
It was the first time they’ve scored more points in the paint than the Heat in all seven of their matchups this season. Boston also outrebounded Miami the first time this series with a 42-32 edge overall and a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass. Garnett led the way in both departments with 11 boards, three coming on offense.
The Heat were disappointing all-around. They couldn’t maintain the fast pace they had initially and allowed the Celtics to dictate how the game was going to be run. By slowing the game down, Boston held Miami to a mere 16 points on the fastbreak.
Miami managed to shoot 49 percent, but it wasn’t nearly enough due to poor free throw shooting, incredibly lengthy scoring lulls and failing to keep Boston out of the paint.
No need to worry, however, Heat faithful. It should have been expected of the Celtics to strike back hard. They’re still a great team that knows how to play with fundamentals and knows how to play as a team, something the Heat need to do consistently.
There were some lengthy stretches in the second half where the Heat looked way too much like the same Cleveland Cavalier teams that always met their demise via constant LeBron ISO’s.
Still, if you think about it, this is a game if the Heat make their free throws. It’s getting incredibly annoying how pitiful this team is collectively at knocking down free throws. There is absolutely no excuse for 10-of-20 shooting neither is there one for your league MVP, a career 75 percent free throw shooting, to miss four of his five attempts.
Miami will have to make an adjustments on both sides of the ball to limit Boston’s scoring down low, while also creating ways to wreak havoc in the paint like they did in the first two games.
Until then, just relax and stay off ESPN or else you’ll probably hear things like this: