Fast Break: C’s go full-throttle en route to dominating Game 3 victory
|06.01.12 at 11:22 pm ET|
The Celtics held serve Friday night, winning Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, 101-91. The Heat were led by an inspired performance from LeBron James, who scored 34 points to go along with eight boards. The Celtics were led by Kevin Garnett‘s double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds. Rajon Rondo added 21 points, dished out 10 assists, and had six rebounds. The C’s look to even the series at two games apiece Sunday night at the Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The ‘Complete Game’: This was as good as it gets for Boston. As a team, the C’s had just seven turnovers and were shooting 53 percent through three quarters of action. Four of Boston’s starters finished scoring in double figures, and the C’s out-rebounded the Heat 44-32 (including 12-6 on the offensive glass).
It wasn’t just that, what happened Friday night goes beyond the numbers. Boston reached a new gear with its intensity. Garnett did a set of knuckle-down push ups after being fouled hard by Udonis Haslem. And that was just the start. All game long players were fired up, Ray Allen was dunking(!), the bench was involved, the crowd was great — just a virtuoso performance that is best described as “Basketball Bedlam.” Keep in mind, this all transpired just two days after suffering a disappointing overtime loss in Game 2.
Benchwarmers: After riding his starters in Game 2, Doc Rivers absolutely needed to squeeze minutes out of his inconsistent bench. He went with Marquis Daniels — yes, the same Marquis Daniels who’s played a total of 48 minutes in 15 games of the C’s postseason run thus far — and he delivered. Not only did Quis play stellar defense, but he hit both of his shot attempts, and picked up an assist in a productive seven-minute stint in the second quarter.
While it’s safe to categorically file Daniels’ performance under “I didn’t see that coming,” two stalwarts of the bench — Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling – also came up big for the C’s. Pietrus knocked the ball away from James while Dooling raced to the basket and converted an impressive finger roll. Dooling scored seven first-half points and invigorated the crowd. Pietrus made up for his shooting woes by slowing down James with relentless defense.
Root Canals: It’s no secret, defense is the C’s bread and butter and served as the catalyst to pull away in Game 3. James went to the bench after torching the Celtics in the first quarter. With the red-hot James grabbing a breather, Boston went to work, holding the Heat scoreless from the 2:38 minute mark of the first quarter until James Jones knocked down a free throw with 7:44 remaining in the second. Conversely, the C’s avoided one of their all-to-common offensive lulls during the five minute drought for Miami, and went on a 15-0 run to grab a nine-point lead.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Heavy is the Head: James’ first quarter was sublime, transcendent, and a third adjective I can’t come up with right now. He started 7-of-11 from the field with 16 points. Say what you will about his lackluster fourth quarter performances, his free throw issues, and whatever other small parts of his game which get (unfairly) picked apart, but the truth is when James gets going, things get scary for opponents. It’s no coincidence the Heat lost control of this game while James sat the first three minutes of the second quarter.
(*Worth noting: As good as James was, the Celtics held Dwyane Wade in check for the most part. The running buddy, who killed the C’s both in last year’s series and in Games 1 & 2, only had 12 points on 6-of-14 shooting through the first 36 minutes of action.)
Killer Instinct: Miami dwindled the C’s 24-point lead to just eight points in the fourth quarter. Boston responded when they had to – preventing the comeback attempt from going full circle. There was a point in Game 3, however, it appeared possible to get the starters some much needed rest.
Tiny Tidbit: The C’s played possibly their most complete game Friday night, so this is really nitpicking, but in the first half alone there were four instances where the C’s gave up easy transition baskets off makes on the other end. The Celtics offensive inconsistency doesn’t allow them room for these mental lapses. Giving away uncontested lay ups is an issue yet to be rectified since Game 1′s debacle.