There’s a lot to touch upon today, and later in the day we will take a closer look at Rajon Rondo’s injury status, KG’s vintage performance, and whether or not Dwyane Wade has turned into a dirty player.
But for now, let’s stay focused on Game 3.
Of all people, I think Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said it best. Regardless of what happens in the series, the Celtics are not going down without a fight, and the Heat know that.
“That was championship caliber response. No other real way to put it. They came out and played extremely hard. They played harder than us and played more efficiently than us. And they’ve earned that pedigree of the battles and the wars that they’ve been in the last four years, where we are trying to get to. We’re trying to take down a champion and it will be one of the toughest things we have to do collectively.”
The Celtics, knowing their backs were against the wall, came out and played a very efficient first quarter. From what I could tell, the C’s only had 2 or 3 bad offensive possessions in the first frame. Paul Pierce was a man on a mission. KG was getting involved early. And unlike we saw in South Beach during the last two games, the C’s were attacking the basket with regularity.
Of course, then the C’s bench, which was outscored by Miami’s subs 21-12 in the first half, allowed the Heat right back into the game.
But in the 2nd half, we saw the Celtics play up to their true potential for the first time in this series. Yes, Rondo’s inspirational effort had something to do with that, but the Celtics had built up their lead even prior to Rondo’s return. The C’s finished the game shooting 50% from the field and 9-18 from downtown. They dished out 27 assists and turned the ball over an acceptable 12 times. They played team basketball, and for the first time, made Miami really look uncomfortable.
Some other random things to think about:
AFTER 3 GAMES, WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HOMECOURT?
It’s more important for Miami, for two reasons.
1. Defensively, the Heat’s effort was minimal last night in comparison to Games 1 and 2. In Miami, there were times when I found myself thinking, “How are the Celtics going to score against this team, with LeBron and Wade and everyone giving 150% effort on the defensive end?” Last night, the thought never even crossed my mind. When they’re at home, it just seems like they feed off the crowd and crank up the energy level on each defensive possession. Last night, the Heat did not have that same intensity on defense, and that’s what made them beatable.
2. The Heat can’t play at their tempo as easily. When they play at home, the Heat are much more likely to go on those 11-2 runs that make them so difficult to beat. You know, where LeBron has two fast-break dunks, James Jones hits quick 3-pointer, and then Wade does some acrobatic move and completes a 3-point play. It seemed like that was happening every quarter in Miami. But not in Boston.
SOME GREAT INSIGHT FROM CHRIS BOSH
On when he pinched his nerve and how it affected his game: “It was this morning. I don’t want to make any excuses. I had a bad game. Those are going to happen. I wasn’t in the right places at the right time. I didn’t make many plays on offense or on defense and I can do a lot better. Like I said before, I’m not going to make any excuses. It is what it is and nobody cares about it. That’s how it’s going to be.”
On how he pinched his neck: “I woke up.”
On if he woke up with a crick in his neck: “Yes. Something like that. Yes.”
WHAT ABOUT SHAQ?
His teammates and coaches seemed to think he made a big difference, but I really feel sorry for the big fella. After he scored his only 2 points in the first half, and then gingerly hobbled back on defense, it was kinda funny to watch, but also sad at the same time. As much as I appreciate his willingness to get back on the floor, it doesn’t appear that Shaq will be able to contribute much more unless he is healthier. He played 8 minutes last night, and I would expect his minutes to be the same tomorrow (if he’s not still sore from yesterday).
BIG BABY AND JEFF GREEN
For Doc, maybe his decision to only play Big Baby for 11 minutes in last’s night’s game was about the matchups. Because unless the Heat go small, these are not good matchups for the undersized Davis.
But Doc had plenty of good things to say of Jeff Green, who didn’t have the best scoring night, but found other ways to contribute.
“He was huge. I mean, it’s a great example where probably in Jeff’s career he’s been judged on points scored. And you know, maybe for the first time in his career he was as valuable as he’s ever been at any point in his career without scoring. He scored a couple points. But his defense, his pressure, getting up, his deflections, him running the floor, stretching the floor for other people, that’s the Jeff Green we want to see every night. It was great. He has to keep doing that.”