Despite their business-like demeanor and big-game focus leading up to the Boston game, the Heat got out to a very tentative start. The Celtics jumped all over Miami early on, starting the game shooting 6-for-9 and going on a 9-1 run to take a 9-point lead just 4 minutes in. Meanwhile, the Heat started the game just 3-for-9.
Miami started chipping away, at one point getting the lead down to 4, but Boston's hot shooting seemed to kick in every time the Heat started making a run. The Celtics would proceed to go on a 10-1 run, pumping their lead up to 16, the largest of the night. A very troubling stat was that half-way through the 2nd quarter, LeBron James was the only starter from Miami with a field goal.
After trailing by 15 at the half, the 3rd quarter that is usually owned by Miami was anything but on this night. It only took a few minutes for Boston to push the lead to 22, with a packed AAA looking on in stunned silence. Finally, someone on the Heat got so pissed off that he stepped up. LeBron James decided that he was going to drive the ball no matter what, and it led to a pair of fouls (including a flagrant on Shaq for thrusting his forearms into James' head) and 4 made free throws.
Overall though, it just seemed like Boston wanted this game more. They were going harder for rebounds and loose balls, and shooting the ball a hell of a lot better. On a night where you would've thought the Heat would come out with a chip on their shoulder, it was the Celtics who were out to make a statement.
The Heat began to score consistently late in the 3rd quarter, but they were trading baskets with Boston which doesn't work when trying to attempt a comeback. Thanks to LeBron James' 11-point 3rd quarter, Miami was able to cut the Boston lead to 10 heading into the 4th quarter. As bad as this game had gone for the Heat, they were still in a good position for a comeback if they could just get their game together.
I was pretty surprised that Miami was able to get even closer because their defense was just so bad. Possession after possession Boston was getting easy bucket after easy bucket, and it just makes you wonder what happened to that stifling Heat D that led the league not long ago.
In the end, Miami just couldn't overcome their early deficit. They outscored Boston by 10 in the 2nd half but it wasn't enough, and the Heat fell 112-107. Quite the change from the 88-80 first meeting between these two teams just 3 weeks ago. Those of you who are very upset about this game need to keep just one thing in mind: this is game number 9 of 82. We knew that it was going to take some time for this team to play to their potential, and nothing has changed.
This game would have been a lot worse if not for LeBron James taking the team and putting it on his shoulders in the 2nd half. He finished with 35 points, 17 of which came from the charity stripe. He went 17-of-22 from the line and at one point hit 13-straight free throws. It was by far a season high in both free throw attempts and makes.
- Who owns the Heat? Is it Micky Arison or Ray Allen?
- Dwyane Wade had a very forgetful night. He shot just 2-of-12 from the field and didn't make a field goal until the 3rd quarter.
- Wade has scored just 1 point in the 1st quarter of both games against Boston this year. He's shooting just 6-for-28 in those two games.
- Jerry Stackhouse and Mario Chalmers got in the game earlier then usual, but neither did anything to merit more playing time. It took one ill-advised three-point attempt by Chalmers before he found himself back on the bench.
- Udonis Haslem recorded his 3rd double double of the season, scoring a season-high 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting. His jumper was money all night.
- The Heat bench scored 45 points while Boston's scored just 23.
Thankfully there isn't a long layoff between games, so there will be no time for Miami to dwell on this. They get right back to work tomorrow in preparation for the Toronto Raptors visiting the AAA on Saturday night.