ECF Game 3 – Celts Survive 4th Quarter Collapse

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My eagle talon style will defeat your northern tiger style, LeBron!

Breakdown: I want to start this post by saying that the crowd was fantastic tonight. The Not the Boston Garden was really hopping, and they gave the Cs some much-needed energy. Rondo played his second consecutive fantastic game, and KG got back to taking advantage of the fact that the Heat doesn’t have a rotation player over 6′ 8″ right now with enough talent to stay on the floor. He got his skinny butt in the paint and put up his 8th 20-10 game of the playoffs. Marquis Daniels got in the rotation and made some sound plays as well, the sort of thing that happens when role players go home. Add in a nice defensive adjustment by Doc, double-teaming Wade to try to neutralize one of Miami’s two big guns, and the Celtics built a beautiful lead.

After taking advantage of lackadaisical Heat defense for three quarters, Boston tried to match up small in the fourth and got waxed. As we discussed in the Hawk’s series in the first round, going small to match up doesn’t always make you better defensively even if it looks better on paper. Rotations back to the basket are the responsibility of big guys. When there are no big guys in, nobody is committed to helping on penetrations. Miami gets penetration. Better to leave some of the immobile (Battier, Miller, Jones) wings alone out there and keep a big on the floor than letting James and Wade drive without contest in the paint. On top of that, Boston got sloppy with the ball and handed Miami several fastbreak points. The very instant that Garnett sat on the bench, Miami ticked off an 11 point run.

On top of the intrinsic issues with playing super-small lineups, Chalmers got a couple very difficult drives to go while Mike Miller went off from distance and dominated the glass. Mix in some tough bounces on loose balls, and the 24 point Celtic lead dropped off a cliff to 8. Luckily time was on Boston’s side. KG got the defense re-organized, and they stopped giving up so many freebies. James and Wade forced a few jumpers which they predictably missed, and Rondo, Pierce, and KG sewed it up.

Nothing says “smug” like a white fedora and an ESPY award.

Dwyane Wade Hack Watch: Wade got away with a very nice hack to KG’s forearm in the fourth on a Garnett shot attempt in the paint. Credit Wade with a block even though he didn’t get close to the ball on the swat.

Also, if you’re an official you cannot wait for Chalmers and Battier to foul Garnett 4 separate times in a rebound situation without blowing the whistle and then T Garnett up when he’s swinging elbows fighting for possession of the ball. Gotta call the first (or second or third) foul to keep all that from escalating. This complaint isn’t about teams or favoritism or conspiracies. It’s a matter of making the first right call before any other actions happens. The players have to play until they hear the whistle. If you had the volume on, you heard JVG going off on this sequence already, so I’ll let it rest.

Stat-note: Dwyane Wade took no free throws tonight, the first time he has gone free-throw-less in a playoff game since his rookie season.

Stat-note 2: Boston was +27 with Garnett on the floor tonight. Which means (in a 10 point game) that they were -17 when he sat.

Apology: Sorry for the crappy breakdown, the lame whining, and the lack of tequila in this post. I just didn’t have it in me. Maybe Sunday I’ll be feeling it.

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