Boston 112, Miami 106. What an exciting game that was! As I watched it, at no point did I feel like one team was pulling away from the other. There was only one lead in the double digits (11, Miami), but it came midway into the fourth quarter, and the C’s came back and tied it up almost immediately. Dwyane Wade put the Heat up by two with 0.6 seconds to play, but Doc Rivers drew up a fantastic alley-oop play from Pierce to Rondo to tie the game. In overtime, Rondo and Ray Allen took over, scoring most of the points and powering the Celtics to a thrilling victory. In a game without Kevin Garnett or Eddie House, not to mention weakened players in Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo (almost our entire starting 5 was hurt or hampered!) and Glen Davis, the team managed to put enough points on the board to come away with the win. While they gave up 44 points to Wade, they managed to weather his scoring explosion and contain the rest of the team.
First off, the negatives. The two big ones were turnovers and rebounding. The Celtics committed 26 turnovers, 15 more than the Heat. Additionally, the Heat converted those turnovers into 26 points, well above the 4 scored by the Celtics off Miami turnovers. And Ray Allen’s turnover at the end of regulation nearly cost the Celtics the game (in fact, if Wade had just held the ball a split second longer, it WOULD have cost them the game). I understand this team is still finding its rhythm with Rasheed Wallace replacing Kevin Garnett, but you can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to win games in the NBA.
Rebounding was the other big issue for this team. Miami out-rebounded Boston 44-42, which is not all that big a difference. However, on the offensive boards the Heat won by a wide margin: 17-5. The Celtics have the bodies to bang up against the glass, but I’m not sure their big men have quite the good enough hands necessary to come away with a lot of rebounds. Too many times did I see a ball get tipped when it should have been corralled. I’m seeing this a lot in recent games, and it’s beginning to become a worrisome trend. Giving up second-chance shots and offensive rebounds is a quick way to tire your team out and give up unnecessary points to the opposition. Boston has the potential to rebound much better, they just haven’t yet.
Offensively, the Celtics played exceptionally well. All 5 starters had more than 15 points. Three of them- Perkins, Allen and Rondo- went over 20 points. Perk even had a double-double, adding 10 rebounds to his 20 points. The Celtics moved the ball in and out, penetrated well and shot well from the perimeter, putting up more three-pointers than Miami (7-6). And in overtime, the athleticism of the Celtics really came into focus, as Ray Allen and Rondo especially slashed into the paint over and over again. Once this team solidifies its rotation and gets healthy, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Overall, this was a great way to start a road trip. It was a huge win that came via a team that was hurting at pretty much every position. To come out and beat a good team in Miami, at home, in overtime, says a lot about the heart of this team (not to mention its conditioning). Next up will be the always exciting Atlanta Hawks. It will take as big an effort as it took tonight to beat the ever-tenacious Hawks. Hopefully the C’s will be up for the challenge.