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Rajon Rondo dazzled everyone with 44 points and 10 assists in Game 2, but it wasn't enough. LeBron James scored 34 points of his own, and the Heat survived the Celtics in overtime.
It looked like the Miami Heat were going to drop the second game of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, as Rajon Rondo had a career night and was virtually unstoppable in the first half of the game. The Heat made the necessary adjustments in the second half and rallied back from a double-digit deficit, the largest comeback in team playoff history, and eventually took the lead. Miami let Boston back in the game late, sending it to overtime, but it was all Miami after that.
Surya Fernandez of Peninsula Is Mightier acknowledges the big Heat comeback, but notes while the team is close to the NBA finals, because they're playing the Celtics they're still far away.
While the victory was well-deserved and made their plays when it counted the most in overtime, the Heat allowed the visiting team to dictate the pace of the game from the outset to fall behind from a deficit that at one time was 14 points and could not turn it around until the second half. Even still, once the Heat finally was able to take the lead and appeared ready to blow the game wide open with a dominant third quarter as they had done in their current winning streak dating back to the Pacers series, the Celtics simply would not go away and clawed right back into the game to retake the lead. The final moments of regulation were some of the most intense sequences that the Heat have faced this postseason and the team will be better off in the end for getting tested so heavily by the Celtics.
The Boston Celtics controlled the first half of the game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening but faltered early in the second half. Boston, powered by a career night by Rajon Rondo, battled back late in the game and sent it into overtime, but Boston was out of gas and couldn't close the deal. Paul Pierce fouled out in regulation and Rondo was the only Celtics player who could score in overtime.
Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog says Boston might be demoralized by the tough loss, but they're not devastated.
This team still has Paul Pierce, the king of comebacks. They still have Kevin Garnett, who will not die quietly. They still have Ray Allen, greatest shooter alive. And they have Rajon Rondo, triple double machine who's best is as good as anyone's in the game.
They have too much pride, too much savvy, too much mental toughness to go quietly into that dark night. They are down, but you can never truly count them out. And if they go down, you can bet that they will go down swinging. And that's just one reason why I'm so proud of this team and feel lucky to be a fan.
The Boston Celtics' 115-111 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals is going to sting, but the saving grace is that Rajon Rondo had a historically great game. The Celtics guard scored 44 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds, all while playing all 53 minutes of the game. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to lead the Celtics to victory, so it will likely be forgotten.
Well, maybe not. On ESPN, color commentator Magic Johnson called Rondo's performance the greatest playoff performance he's ever seen by a guard. That's probably an exaggeration -- Johnson obviously forgot about Michael Jordan's 63 points in Boston Garden in 1986, as well as many other performances by Jordan, Johnson himself and others.
But Rondo's feat is still very rare. Since 1985, only 10 other players have scored at least 40 points and dished 10 assists while playing at least 40 minutes in a playoff game, and only one of those 10 games was in a conference final or an NBA Finals game. None of those 10 performances featured the player playing every single minute of the game. More specifically, no player has ever scored 44 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds in a playoff game since 1985.
You can also bet that few point guards had a shot chart like this.
That's coming from a guy who is not known for having much of an outside shot, too. No matter the Celtics' result, this was truly an unbelievable performance from Rondo.
The Boston Celtics put together a determined effort in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals but, in the end, it wasn't quite enough to beat the Miami Heat. Spurred by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, the Heat held on to pick up a 115-111 overtime victory, overcoming a 44-point, 10-rebound performance by Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics jumped ahead and led throughout the first half before the Heat rallied in the third quarter to take a lead. The Celtics fought back to regain the lead in the fourth quarter, but then the Heat wrestled it back away in regulation. Down three points with 48 seconds left, the Celtics tied the game on a three-pointer by Ray Allen. After two misses from James, the game headed into overtime.
In overtime, the game's most critical sequence came with one minute and 37 seconds remaining. With the Celtics up two points, Rondo drove hard to the basket and may have been clipped over the head by Wade on a layup attempt. However, no foul was called, and the Heat tied the game on the other end on a Udonis Haslem dunk. Miami took the lead for good on the next possession on a three-point play by Wade.
James had 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Heat, while Wade added 23 points.
Down three points with 48 seconds left in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics somehow were able to get a wide-open 3-pointer for Ray Allen. How'd it happen? Let's take a look.
First of all, you have to admire the Celtics' incredible composure on this play. The initial design had Ray Allen coming off a baseline screen, but LeBron James did a great job of fighting through the Kevin Garnett screen to cut off the pass to Allen. That meant that the Celtics needed to freelance to create a look. Rajon Rondo did this by running a pick-and-pop with Garnett, and then all hell broke loose.
The Heat defender most responsible for the open look is Dwyane Wade. As you can see here, he broke to try to pick off Rondo's pass to Garnett, but left far too late, leaving the rest of the Heat defenders in a compromising position.
With Wade out of position, Paul Pierce made a heads-up cut down the lane to occupy defenders. This attracted James, who immediately slid over to try to prevent the layup. The problem? In the process, he left Allen wiiiide open.
So how do we assign blame? To a certain extent, James is at fault for leaving the guy who can tie the game to cover the guy who can only get it within one point. However, this never would have happened if Wade hadn't gambled for the steal, so he's the guy I'd blame the most for the breakdown. Then again, if the Celtics weren't poised and if Pierce didn't make that basket cut, Allen never would have gotten that shot anyway.
Dwyane Wade and Kevin Garnett probably both fouled each other on a critical drive late in overtime. Wade stuck his leg out, while Garnett came down with his arms tilted to the side. Garnett ended up being called for the foul, but the fact that they both hit each other probably explains why they both stared each other down like this.
Who do you think won the staring contest?
The referees missed this foul on Rajon Rondo, without question. In a tie game with 1 1/2 minutes remaining in overtime, this looms large.
On the last two possessions, the Heat have switched screens defensively. On one switch, LeBron James contested a Kevin Garnett turnaround perfectly. On the next, Udonis Haslem slid his feet to cut off Paul Pierce’s drive to the basket.
How will Boston adjust?
Once again, the Miami Heat’s offense is too perimeter-oriented. Here, it’s not entirely Miami’s fault. They have a lot of non-threats on the floor, and the Boston Celtics are helping off them to load up on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. That said, Miami needs to figure out a better way to get James and Wade catching the ball closer to the basket.
On the other end, the Celtics have made some beautiful offensive adjustments, throwing in a lot of misdirection to confuse Miami’s help defenders.
Rajon Rondo has 30 points in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. All game, he's been aggressive looking for his shot, carrying the Celtics offensively. And then ... he goes ahead and does this.
That's a layup Rondo is passing up. I'm sure he's tired from playing every minute of this game, but come on. He needs to shoot that ball.
As Jeff Van Gundy noted on ESPN's broadcast, the Miami Heat have begun switching more pick-and-rolls, especially with Rajon Rondo. The effect: It has coerced the Boston Celtics into an isolation game offensively.
The thing is, the Celtics have a lot of counters to this. Considering how much continuity exists in their offense -- i.e., their plays fold well into each other -- it shouldn’t be too hard for the Celtics to run pindowns or misdirections to render all that Miami switching irrelevant.
He shot a 16-foot jumper that missed. Yup.
Love them or hate them, you have to admit that the Miami Heat's two stars, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, can make some absolutely breathtaking plays. The duo isn't nicknamed "Flying Death Machine" for nothing.
For example, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more jaw-dropping athletic sequence then the one we just saw from James and Wade at the end of the third quarter. First, James swatted Paul Pierce's layup attempt high into the air to keep the ball inbounds. Then, Wade took off on his own against two defenders and fought through Keyon Dooling's attempt to foul him to convert on the three-point play.
I'm the furthest thing from a Heat fan, and I can appreciate that play. That means you should, too.
The Boston Celtics’ biggest problem as the Miami Heat start to take control of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals is that Kevin Garnett hasn’t done anything. The Celtics big man has just six points and four rebounds, and has barely been involved in the third quarter.
The Celtics probably should try to get Garnett a post touch, but to the Heat’s credit, they’ve defended him well. Udonis Haslem has done a very nice job fronting him, and whichever Miami wing has been positioned on the baseline has provided help to prevent the lob pass to Garnett over the top.
No matter what, though, the Celtics need more from their backbone.
Mark this play down in your notebooks, virtual or real. Up five, the Celtics got a steal, and Ray Allen came in against Dwyane Wade on the fast break. A healthy Allen finishes without any problems. A banged-up Allen fighting through an ankle injury does this instead.
The Heat recovered the ball, and Mario Chalmers converted on a layup on the other end to cut the lead to three points. This is the sad reality the Celtics face in this series. There's really no margin for error.
For one of the first times in over a month, Ray Allen is having a good shooting game. He hit his first three-pointer of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals early in the third quarter, but also hit a few mid-range jumpers in the first half.
Most significantly, the Heat appear to be defending Allen as if he’s completely healthy. Upon Allen getting open for that three, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra seemed incensed on the bench. Seeing as the Celtics’ offense depends heavily on the threat of Allen as much as Allen’s production itself, this is good news for Boston.
The Celtics point guard has already racked up 22 points on 7-for-11 shooting to go with seven assists, giving his team the offensive push they lacked in Game 1 of this series. Overall, the Celtics are shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and have been able to score points both around the bucket and with the midrange jumper.
Mario Chalmers has joined Rondo in making Game 2 about each team's primary ball-handler, posting 14 points of his own on 5-for-10 shooting, including a 3-for-5 mark from beyond the arc, to pace the Heat.
This game is by no means over, but so far we're seeing a very motivated Celtics team that is playing quicker and with a bit of urgency, and it's matching the athleticism and raw talent of Miami.
1. The Celtics are feasting off midrange jumpers. Boston has taken 25 shots classified as jumpers, but only two of those were 3-pointers. As well as they are scorching the net, it’s tough to create a ton of separation shooting long 2-pointers.
2. The Heat’s offense has actually generated some pretty good looks, though very few of them have been for LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Both players are struggling, but they’ve also been unselfish, finding other players for open looks. That explains how Mario Chalmers has 14 points.
There’s a lot for the Celtics to be happy about, of course; Rajon Rondo, in particular, has been unbelievable. But there are reasons this game is still within the Heat’s reach, even though it seems like the Celtics are playing so much better than them.
Here's the Boston Celtics' shot chart, as of three minutes and 14 seconds left in the second quarter. The lone "X" on the right side of the court represents a missed Paul Pierce 3-pointer in transition that was basically a heat check.
We’re midway through the second quarter, and here are the minute totals for the Boston Celtics’ stars.
Meanwhile, their bench has played a total of 16 minutes. (It didn’t help that Greg Steimsma picked up four fouls in a minute and a half, of course.)
It’s a risky gamble by Doc Rivers. It’s working now, but fatigue could be a factor later in the game.
After a so-so Game 1, Rajon Rondo already has 16 points in Game 2. Most of his points so far have come in transition, but he’s also nailed five open jumpers, making the Miami Heat pay for leaving him wide open.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is known to favor the "play seven feet off Rondo" defensive strategy over any others, but he might need to switch things up if the Boston Celtics point guard keeps hitting these shots.
After a so-so Game 1, Rajon Rondo already has 16 points in Game 2. Most of his points so far have come in transition, but he’s also nailed five open jumpers, making the Heat pay for leaving him wide open.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is known to favor the “play seven feet off Rondo” strategy over any others, but he might need to switch things up if Rondo keeps hitting these shots.
The Miami Heat have a bit of an issue: Their supporting cast is so poor that the Boston Celtics are basically using Kevin Garnett as a designated double-teamer whenever Dwyane Wade or LeBron James catch the ball inside the 3-point line. The Heat big men don’t have the skill to make Garnett pay, and it has stalled Miami’s offense.
The Heat’s best counter here is to rely on more quick-hitting plays. Maybe send a cross-screen Wade's way and have him catch the ball on the move in the paint. Alternatively, some misdirection to free a shooter for a jumper on the weakside could work as well.
He did not shoot the ball, amazingly.
Just look for his name on the left side of this screenshot (click to biggify).
I've got to say, I’m not wild about how the Miami Heat have come out offensively in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. I’d like to see a lot more touches for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade closer to the basket, instead of having them dribble-drive from the perimeter. The Boston Celtics are using their fouls and otherwise walling off the middle. The Heat should try posting them up instead.
LeBron James is apparently human, because he just missed a slam dunk really badly early in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. Sucks for those of you who claim he’s a cyborg.
The Boston Celtics have already made one major adjustment defensively for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat. Kevin Garnett, who had to chase Shane Battier around the perimeter in Game 1, is now guarding Ronny Turiaf instead. That has shifted Brandon Bass onto Battier.
This has allowed Garnett to reclaim his role as a basket protector. So far, he’s barely guarding Turiaf and instead is helping on everyone else. Turiaf has already burned Garnett once with a dunk off a pick-and-roll, though.
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday he was considering resting starting shooting guard Ray Allen for Game 2 of the team's 2012 Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat because Allen is struggling with injuries. However, it doesn't appear Allen himself was on board with that plan when speaking after Wednesday's shootaround.
Ray Allen, when asked about Doc Rivers' suggestion that he might rest him a game: "Hell no."— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) May 30, 2012
It's probably safe to say that Allen will be in the lineup for Wednesday's Game 2.
The Celtics' guard has been a shell of himself during the playoffs, as he is playing through bone spurs in his right ankle. He is averaging just 9.6 points a game while shooting 39 percent from the field, 28 percent from three-point range and 60 percent from the free-throw line.
For all news and information regarding the Miami Heat, please visit Peninsula is Mightier or check out SB Nation Tampa Bay. For updates and perspective on the Boston Celtics, head on over to CelticsBlog or stop by SB Nation Boston. For complete coverage of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.
The Boston Celtics need to make several improvements if they want to compete against the Miami Heat, but the biggest change will need to come from Rajon Rondo.
The Heat and the Celtics are both trying to capture the Eastern Conference title. They'll meet in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Have the Miami Heat figured out Rajon Rondo, or did he just have one bad game. We're leaning towards the latter.
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