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Fast Break: Celtics wilt in Miami

04.10.11 at 6:12 pm ET
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The Celtics have long prided themselves on playing their best with their backs against the wall. That they were, in fact up against that proverbial brick structure against the Heat on Sunday is directly related to their struggles the past six weeks. In reality, it never should have come down to one game in Miami to get the inside track on the second seed in the Eastern Conference, but they did it to themselves.

The Celtics didn’t lose the seed in a 100-77 loss to Miami, but the blowout was the final bit of payback for a wasted second half of the season. Miami now has a one-game lead with two left to play. Barring a stunning turn of events, the Celtics will go into the playoffs with homecourt in exactly one series in the Eastern Conference playoffs. That’s the same situation they were in last year, and we all know how that turned out, but the Celtics have once again made their path as difficult as possible.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Second unit blues: The Celtics jumped out to a first quarter lead, but by the time the starters had come back in the game in the second quarter, they were down seven. Things went downhill from there. The second unit problems were all offensive as Delonte West, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Nenad Krstic struggled to accomplish much of anything. Davis will take his share of criticism after yet another poor shooting day, but Green and Krstic have to assert themselves offensively for the reserves to be effective.

Offensive rebounding: The Celtics have been a solid defensive rebounding team this season, but they looked like last season’s crew in the first half against the Heat, giving up 10 offensive boards. Joel Anthony feasted on the glass, grabbing four offensive boards in the first half. Miami received 15 points and 15 rebounds (eight on the offensive glass) from its centers, while Jermaine O’Neal and Krstic combined for two points and one rebound, both by Krstic.

Where was Rondo? The up-and-down point guard was mostly down after attempting just three shots in the first half (and collecting just one assist). Rondo is the one true matchup advantage the Celtics have over Miami, but not if he doesn’t press the issue. The Celtics didn’t run and Rondo rarely got the basket. That’s not a good combination, especially against a team like Miami who has superior athletes at almost every position.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

The 2008 version of Kevin Garnett came to play: Right from the outset, Kevin Garnett was engaged offensively. He went into the post, slipped backdoor for layups and alley-oops and even busted out a 3-pointer, his first made 3 of the season. Garnett was essentially the only option the Celtics had for much of the first half, which was a major problem.

Paul Pierce also came to play: The Celtics made a late surge to at least make things somewhat respectable after falling behind by 20 points and Pierce led the charge. Pierce and Garnett combined for 45 points, more than half the Celtics’ total.

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