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For anyone trying to understand why LeBron James drives everyone insane, look no further than his reaction to Game 5 against the Celtics.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are great players, but their on-court effort sometimes comes and goes. It came and went in Game 5, and the Heat ended up falling.
The Boston Celtics felled the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night to put LeBron James and Co. on the brink of elimination as the series heads back to Boston. The Celtics had help from a host of players on the night. Five players scored in double digits, one of whom wasn't Rajon Rondo, who added 13 assists and six rebounds with his seven points, instead.
Mickael Pietrus more than did his part, pitching in 13 points, including two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. The SB Nation blog CelticsBlog points out that even before the Pietrus' offensive outburst, he had been one of Boston's unsung heroes of the series.
In 2008 one of the key role players was James Posey. He played hard-nosed team defense, fought for every loose ball, and just when the other team was starting to make a run, he'd drill a dagger three pointer to turn the tide. That's exactly what Mickael Pietrus did for us last night.
Before last night, he had made exactly one shot in the series but that didn't stop him from being helpful. He's been solid on defense and you could argue that his 2 straight offensive rebounds in overtime of game 4 were as important as any shots that were made. Even though the Celtics couldn't convert on that possession, they held the ball away from the Heat long enough to limit their shot attempts in overtime.
The Heat had just two players cross over into double figures in Game 5, and they were exactly the two you would guess. Once seemingly in firm control of the series, the Heat will bear criticism from all angles during a long offseason if they cannot pull out Game 6 on Thursday night. According to the Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier, everyone needs to step their game up, from the stars to the supporting cast.
Now the Heat must win on the road in Boston for a chance at a Game 7 back home or this season will end as ugly as it did last season. With all the pressure on their shoulders, they must win two straight to get to the NBA Finals in what was once thought to be an easy road to the championship round after the season-ending injury to Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose and the struggles of the Celtics against the Philadelphia Sixers.
It's not over by a long shot but the Heat must count on the Big 3 individually to have brilliant games and for the supporting players to step up to give them badly needed support. Their defense still hasn't been able to contain Garnett in the paint and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen don't look as hobbled as they did to start the series.
It may not be obvious from a box score that shows him shooting just 3-15 and committing 5 turnovers, but Rajon Rondo had a huge impact on Boston's Game 5 victory in Miami.
The Boston Celtics continued to ride the tide in the Eastern Conference Finals by defeating the Miami Heat, 94-90, on Wednesday night. The Celtics now lead this series, three games to two, after capturing a road victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The final minute of play was filled with point-counterpoint moments, but the Heat just weren't able to string together more than two points in row. With 52 seconds remaining, the Celtics held a one-point lead, 87-86, but Paul Pierce hit a trey from 25 feet out for a four-point lead. From there on out, with the exception of a LeBron James layup, it was an exchange of fouls and free throws.
Pierce scored 19 points for the Celtics, shooting just 6-of-19 from the field, but that three came at the opportune time. Kevin Garnett led the team with 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Ray Allen also struggled from the field (2-of-9), but he and Mickael Pietrus each put in 13 points.
LeBron James led the Heat's effort with 30 points and 13 rebounds and Dwyane Wade added 27 points, but ultimately they couldn't get through the Celtics defense when it was a close game. No other Miami scorer turned in more than nine points.
Game 6 of this series returns to Boston's TD Garden on Thursday night. Can Pierce, KG and the rest of the Celtics banish LeBron and Wade from the postseason?
There are precious few moments in a basketball game where one player simply shoves it down another player's face. We want to think they're more, but for every posterization, every isolation, there's always some team dynamic that preceded the play that was essential.
The thing about this play is that Pierce purposely worked a switch to get James on him. He wanted to go right at James, and really, he wanted to nail a three-pointer in James' face. So, Pierce worked the clock down, jab-stepped, then somehow found enough room to get a clear look at the rim over James' outstretched arm. Nothing but the bottom of the net.
It was a rare instance of a hero-ball shot we can all enjoy.
LeBron James just spent four possessions standing in the corner watching Dwyane Wade do fancy dribbling moves. He then got the ball and got his layup stuffed by Kevin Garnett.
These last few possessions illustrate why the James clutch debate is a debate.
Dwyane Wade has played the first three quarters of this Game 5 like his knee is still hurt. He’s playing the fourth quarter like his knee is just fine. Just ask Brandon Bass.
This eventually led to a Celtics three-pointer because of a heads-up play by Rajon Rondo to get the ball to Mickael Pietrus, but it was cool nonetheless.
Surprisingly, James Jones is playing pretty good defense. I’m actually shocked.
On the last three possessions, LeBron James has five points. Here’s how the points break down.
Plays in which James caught it on the move, then finished: Two points.
Plays in which James set a screen, ran around, then shot immediately after getting the ball: Three points.
Plays in which James set a screen, got a switch, then waited eight seconds to make a move: Zero points.
Unsurprisingly, Jeff Van Gundy was beaming about the play Norris Cole made to chase down Rajon Rondo and pick up the steal. It’s true that, if the Heat come back to win Game 5 against the Celtics, this may well be the catalyst.
But I just can’t get over how fast Cole was running on this play.
Great hustle, obviously, but also great speed.
There are several things that are shocking about this video. First, there's the fact that Kevin Garnett is throwing down a tomahawk slam dunk like he used to do a decade ago. I don't think we've seen Garnett do that in quite a while.
But more shockingly: what was LeBron James doing? Why let Garnett waltz down the lane?
In any event, Garnett dunks are noteworthy now, which is kind of sad in a way.
Consider all that happened in the final couple minutes:
1. LeBron James allows Kevin Garnett to run right by him on the fast break, leading to a Garnett slam.
2. They mess up the two-for-one and instead end up with a stepback fallaway three-pointer from James.
3. Crossmatches in transition force James Jones onto Paul Pierce. Pierce drives and finds Keyon Dooling for an open three-pointer.
Every possession matters. The Heat will rue those three plays if they lose this game.
The Celtics keep clawing their way back into the game thanks to the brilliance of Rajon Rondo, as usual. The Heat have once again switched their coverages on him, electing to send hard traps his way. The problem? Rondo is turning the corner on them, giving him passing lanes to find his big men for layups.
Those traps by the Heat simply have to be better.
Dear Amar’e Stoudemire,
Halloween is four months away.
Rajon Rondo can be so, so brilliant. Then, he can do something like this.
I give up trying to understand Rajon Rondo.
For the second time in this game, the Celtics have switched to a match-up zone defense. Former Timberwolves, Pistons and Wizards coach Flip Saunders has been helping the Celtics out during the playoffs, and this is the kind of defense he often likes to play.
Earlier, it worked. Now, it’s not, because just like any zone defense, it has major limitations that can be exploited after a matter of time. It stole some possessions for the Celtics in the second quarter, but by now, Miami has realized where they need to cut to create openings. It’s time for Doc Rivers to put a stop to it.
In contrast to the Celtics, the Heat’s defense is spending too much time staying at home on shooters. Whereas Miami has had major issues finding driving lanes, the Celtics are beating the Heat with a simple pick and roll between Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett.
Rondo is making some great passes, to be sure, but the lanes are open because Garnett is driving unimpeded to the basket.
The Miami Heat are trying to stave off the Boston Celtics' momentum and end their losing streak in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, and went out to nearly a double-digit lead in the first half of the game. After the first period of play, the Heat racked up an eight-point lead and took advantage of some poor shots by the Celtics. LeBron James carried the Heat early in the game hitting some big shots finishing up the half with 18 points.
Boston didn't give up however and somehow rallied back to pull within two points with just two minutes left in the game after a tough Kevin Garnett basket. Boston continued to press MIami and force some bad shots and made sure they had the final shot of the half, but lost the ball and went into halftime down 42-40, but in reality could have been down nearly double-digits.
Despite being down just two points, the Heat significantly limited Rajon Rondo who picked up just three points and four assists. Dwayne Wade was also once again not very effective in the first half of the game with just seven points. Playing just off the bench, Chris Bosh wound up the second-leading scorer for the Heat in the first half with nine points.
The Miami Heat still lead at halftime, but the Celtics have gotten back into this game thanks to some really strong help defense. It would probably be inaccurate to say the Celtics are playing a zone defense, but it’s not too far off. Really, they’re playing man-to-man, but instructing all five guys to keep a toe in the paint to shut off all dribble penetration.
The defense is very reminiscent of what the Oklahoma City Thunder did to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. The difference? The Spurs rotated the ball from side to side, while the Heat are watching and surveying with poor spacing. There’s a reason LeBron James told ESPN’s Doris Burke that moving the ball would be a major point of emphasis for the Heat in the second half.
OK folks, poll time. Which player has the more effective saliva?
Chris Bosh (from last year)?
Did anyone think Mickael Pietrus would actually make this wide-open dunk? Be honest.
It’s an interesting question that Erik Spoelstra must figure out in the second half. So far, Chris Bosh has nine points and three rebounds in his return from injury, but most of that has been with Kevin Garnett off the floor. This is by design, but with the Celtics chipping away at the lead, how much will Bosh play against the Celtics’ best guys?
A better question: how much should Bosh play against the Celtics’ best guys. His post defense and overall floor positioning has been a bit shaky because of the long absence.
RON GARRETSON: “Knock knock.”
LEBRON JAMES: “Who’s there?”
RON GARRETSON: “MVP”
LEBRON JAMES: “MVP who?”
RON GARRETSON: “MVP who fouled out.”
LEBRON JAMES: (uncomfortable laugh)
There are plenty of celebrities on the sidelines for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics in Miami, FL, including some fellow NBA players. New York Knicks center Amar'e Stoudemire is on the sideline and rocking out this amazing sleeveless jean jacket.
I'm not quite sure the look Amar'e is going for here. First of all, I didn't really know people under the age of 50 still wore jean jackets, outside of maybe like some punk rockers or something. Not only is it a jean jacket, but the sleeves are cut off of it. This makes total sense in Miami, since it's June and usually pretty hot and humid. I wonder if Amare cut the sleeves off himself, or if he bought it that way from the store?
He's also rocking out the Star of David gold chain and what looks like a rubber band on his wrist.
The Celtics were 24th in the NBA in offensive efficiency this year, and despite that, they had scored quite easily against the Heat ever since Game 2. In the first quarter? Sixteen points, 28 percent from the field, just four free throws.
Everything reverts to the mean.
It’s been a rough 36 hours for Chris Bosh. For once, I think his over-exuberance after a three-point play is appropriate.
UPDATE: Here's Bosh literally letting off some steam.
Heat forward Chris Bosh was all set to check into an NBA game for the first time in 23 days, but before he could, he obviously needed to clear it with Celtics coach Doc Rivers (not pictured).
Rivers was just checking with Bosh to see if his groin was OK, but I’d rather imagine them talking about whether the Dolphins have a chance this year.
I love the chess match going on in this series between the Celtics and Heat. Both teams have made changes to their schemes in Game 5, hitting right at the other’s adjustments.
On Miami’s end, they’re trying to get LeBron James and Dwyane Wade the ball close to the basket. The Heat’s first play was a Hawk set that saw Wade set a ball screen on the right side, then circle around the baseline to post up on the left side. Wade and James have gotten several post-ups since then.
Boston’s adjustment? Hard double teams to get the ball out of Wade and James’ hands in the post, followed by the three other defenders keeping their feet in the paint and closing off passing lanes. Sharp cuts by James and Wade have victimized the Celtics a couple times, but overall, they have to feel pretty good with how their defense is playing.
Like I said at the jump, seeing these unfold is fun. These things happen in a Game 5.
So far, Rajon Rondo, sporting a white headband, has been really passive. He already passed out of one layup to throw a behind-the-back pass and he’s yet to take a shot. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have clanked early jumpers.
Rondo needs to attack for the Celtics to win this game.
There was some belief that Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh would be able to play in Tuesday night's match-up with the Boston Celtics, and that appears to be the case. It does not look like Bosh is going to play a significant role for Miami in Game 5 however, according to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Spoelstra said that Bosh would be used in "short bursts" and that he would play a "small role" and said that Bosh would likely play center. He also worked to downplay expectations.
"He doesn't have to be the Chris Bosh he was seven weeks ago," he said. "We can build up to that. He just has to give us solid minutes and help our rotation get worked out."
Bosh suffered a lower abdominal injury during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Indiana Pacers and hasn't played since. The Heat could definitely use another big man on the court who can score, even if it's just in short bursts from Bosh.
The Miami Heat have managed a couple of home wins over the Boston Celtics without injured big man Chris Bosh, but based on what happened in Game 4 in Boston, the Heat might need him back to win the series. LeBron James picked up a few fouls while attempting to guard Kevin Garnett in the post, which led to his fouling out.
Erik Spoelstra has been asked before every game of the series how close Bosh was to returning, and he gave his most optimistic answer yet in the morning before Game 5. Bosh is a game-time decision on Tuesday night.
Spoelstra says Chris Bosh is a game-time decision. "We'll let you know tonight."— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 5, 2012
Bosh has been out since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers, when he sustained an abdominal injury.
The Miami Heat return home after two straight road losses to the Boston Celtics, and will be looking to retain their homecourt advantage in Game 5.
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