|Fast Break: Celtics run is over||06.09.12 at 11:14 pm ET|
MIAMI — The team that always has to do it the hard way, couldn’t find a way to do it the hardest way possible by winning a Game 7 on the road. They had their chances and played inspired basketball, but they supply ran out of gas in the second half, losing 101-88.
The Celtics began the game playing the exact opposite of the way they played in Game 6. Working with an inside-out game, they got good looks in their halfcourt offense and heeding Doc Rivers call, they got in LeBron James’ airspace and made it difficult for him.
They played about as well as well as they could have played in the first half, but in the second they reverted back to a stationary offense and allowed the Heat to erase a seven-point halftime lead in less than five minutes. What followed was one of the most intense, back and forth playoff games in recent memory. There were six ties and four lead changes in the final six minutes of the third quarter.
But in the fourth quarter it was all LeBron and the Heat. There is no shame in losing to the best player in the game on his homecourt in a Game 7, but for the Celtics an offseason of uncertainty awaits. They gave this five-year run everything they had, but it seems they have taken it as far as it can go.
WHAT WENT WRONG
LeBron James was amazing, again: The Celtics did a much better job guarding LeBron than they did in Game 6, at least at the outset. They used Bass to body him up and give him a more physical defender, but rather than force the game, LeBron let it come to him. He lived at the free throw line and made huge plays in transition. Defensively, he was a monster.
Then in the fourth quarter he became something else. Simply put: He was the best player in the game and the reason the Heat are going to the finals.
Chris Bosh was a difference-maker: Bosh came into the game in the second quarter and immediately went to work, making his first four shots. With Garnett in foul trouble, the Celtics used Ryan Hollins on Bosh, but that didn’t work at all. Bosh finished with 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting with three huge corner 3-pointers.
Shane Battier stepped up huge: With Dwyane Wade stuck in neutral and the Celtics doing a solid job defending James in the first half, the Heat needed somebody to step and it was Battier who came through, knocking down four 3-pointers.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Celtics finally found a way to play without Kevin Garnett: The one player they can’t afford to have foul trouble picked up his first minutes into the game when he defended LeBron James on a breakaway. Garnett picked up his second on a moving screen and then disaster struck when he got his third on a hip check. Garnett went out with 6:50 left in the first half and the Celtics went on a 14-3 run fueled by Brandon Bass.
Brandon Bass has his moment: Left alone and unguarded for most of the series, Brandon Bass had a huge first half, scoring 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting. It was the most he’s scored in any game in this series.
Rondo triple double: Rajon Rondo came through with a Game 7 triple double scoring 22 points with 14 assists and 10 rebounds. he may have already been there, but Rondo became a true superstar in the playoffs. He’s the future.
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