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Thursday, May 12, 2011
You knew this day was coming
After the Boston Celtics lost the first two games of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals to the Miami Heat, you could sense that the championship window was rapidly closing.
The Celts were not going to comeback far enough in the series and barring big changes (namely an infusion of young talent), this team is destined to become the San Antonio Spurs of this season (a formerly great team that craps its pants in the first round of the playoffs).
Boston actually led 87-81 last night in Game 5 at AmericanAirlines Arena but from there, LeBron James and the Heat closed the game and the series on a 16-0 run. The Heat won 97-87 for a 4-1 series win and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals against either the Chicago Bulls or the Atlanta Hawks (Bulls up 3-2 with a chance to close out the Hawks tonight).
Losing the series had nothing to do with the shady NBA referees or the Kendrick Perkins trade. Yes, the Heat got to the line at will but that was because they drove rather than settle for jumpers like the Celtics. And yes, Perk would have made the Celts tougher and better defensively but Miami still would have won in six or seven games.
Dwyane Wade had a game-high 34 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals while LeBron put up 33 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Proverbial third wheel Chris Bosh had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Ray Allen led the C's with 18 points, Kevin Garnett had 15 points and 11 rebounds while Paul Pierce had 12 points. Rajon Rondo was limited to six points and three assists. He rightfully sat at the end of the game since between injury and inability to pose a threat offensively, the Heat didn't even have to cover him.
Delonte West had 10 points off the bench while Jeff Green (9 points), Nenad Krstic (8 points) and Glen Davis (6 points) all had their best games of the series but it didn't matter.
Boston came out strong with a 24-16 lead after the first quarter. They led by 10 points but it was fools gold since that happened for much of the series and the latter part of the season. The Celts didn't have the firepower to step up at the end of games while the Heat got it done when it really mattered most.
The Celts led 49-47 at halftime and 73-71 after three quarters. True to form, Miami owned the fourth quarter (26-14) and sent the Celtics home.
Head coach Doc Rivers said after the game that he's a Celtic and he's leaning toward returning next season. Davis is a free agent and Allen said he'll pick up his option and return. That's all fine and dandy but everyone will be a year older while Derrick Rose and the Bulls improve and the Heat continue to mesh more too.
For the game, Boston shot 49.3% to 46.4% last night. The Heat made 12 more free throws (26-14) and grabbed eight more rebounds (38-30). The C's had two more assists (15-13) and two more blocks (5-3) but the Heat had two more steals (7-5). Eight more turnovers (17-9) absolutely killed Boston along with 10 more fast break points (12-2), 10 more points off turnovers (22-12) and six more points in the paint (36-30) for the Heat.