We were blessed that the final game between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics actually meant something; typically this late-season battles between elite teams feature just one squad playing for something, and the other prepping for the postseason. But with Boston and Miami locked in a battle for the No. 2 seed in the East -- and home court advantage in the second round -- Sunday's pairing in South Beach meant quite a bit. And the Celtics and Heat sure played like it.
Well, the C's played like it for about a half. Miami took a 100-77 win, its first against Boston this season. The Heat led by seven at halftime and 15 after the third as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Zydrunas Ilgauskas helped Miami to a 27-point third period. Boston's offense struggled as it did Thursday against the Bulls, with the C's coughing up 19 turnovers and only grabbing three offensive rebounds. Miami, by contrast, had 15 offensive rebounds, many in the first half. Bosh had five, Ilgauskas and Joel Anthony had four each. (Kendrick Perkins, by the way, is one of the best defensive rebounders in basketball.)
Jermaine O'Neal was a complete zero, from his zero points to his zero rebounds to zero blocks and steals. He had one assists, one turnover and four fouls in 14 minutes. Oh, and one skirmish with LeBron.
So it wasn't a complete zero.