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Fast Break: C’s hang on in overtime thriller, series with Heat tied 2-2

06.03.12 at 11:44 pm ET

The Celtics grabbed an 18-point first half lead, but the Heat came storming back in the second half to force an overtime thriller in Game 4. The Celtics were able to prevail, 93-91, evening up the series at two games apiece, despite being without Paul Pierce, who fouled out within the first minute of the extra frame. LeBron James also fouled out in overtime, but not before scoring a team-high 29 points (12-of-25 shooting).  For the Celtics Pierce scored 23 points and Rajon Rondo added 15 points and 15 assists. Dwyane Wade had a chance to win the game for the Heat but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.


Rondo’d: The frenetic Garden crowd was pining for a fast start, and the Celtics point guard obliged. In the first quarter alone, Rondo had eight points and four assists. Oh, yeah, and he had six more dimes in the second quarter. Rondo got into the lane at will — even making a jab at the Heat complaining to the refs in transition to ESPN at halftime — and either took what Miami gave him by converting lay ups, or dished it out to open wing players for 3-pointers. He was the catalyst Boston needed to open up an early double-digit lead.

The Rest: Rondo can put his cape on, summon his Bob Cousy/Magic Johnson/Pete Maravich vision, and set players up all he wants, but unless the Celts are knocking down jumpers, it’s all for naught. Sunday night, Boston’s entire team was on point, shooting nearly 50% from the field in the first half.  And despite the scare, the C’s early 21-6 lead proved to be insurmountable … but how?

Well, the C’s started 6-of-9 from 3-point territory. In the first half, every time the Heat sniffed at a single-digit deficit, Pierce answered the bell with a series of old-fashioned three-point plays. Ray Allen continued to rediscover his touch (starting 5-of-11 from the field). Keyon Dooling hit a few 3-pointers in transition. And although Kevin Garnett wasn’t as aggressive in the early-going, he recorded his 12th double-double of the postseason. It wasn’t until the third quarter that Miami was able to make its move, cutting the deficit to five (but expending a ton of energy in the process).


The Lull and the consequences: As good as the C’s 61-point first half was, their second half was anemic. They hit five of 16 field goal attempts (31 percent) in the third quarter. In fact, Boston had only 13 points in the first 15 minutes of action in the second half as the Heat went on a 27-13 run to tie the game at 74 with just under nine minutes left in the game. In short, the Celtics had their foot on Miami’s throat and failed to press down, letting the Heat all the way back in what would be a dog fight the rest of the way.

Cautiously optimistic: The Heat floated around 50% shooting for the better part of the night. The C’s rotations were crisp enough, but Miami was able to torch Boston. Going into the fourth quarter, the Heat — who vowed to attack the basket more in Game 4 — outscored Boston 38-26 in points in the paint.

If it weren’t for the goodwill built up from a tremendous performance of the first half and a few timely possessions offensively from the C’s, the Heat could (and probably would) have won Game 4 in regulation.  And, going forward, the Celtics have to be tougher defensively while traveling back down to South Beach (Read: More of the same “D” played on James forcing a bad shot from Udonis Haslem during the last possession of regulation.)

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