The Celtics Take The Heat’s Best Shots

By: 06.04.12
Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce, Dime #5

The Celtics, as they were believed to be, were too old and slow for this Miami team, and maybe that’s still true in a larger sense of a series. Taken back to Boston, though, the Celtics’ Big Three coalesced around their biggest star — Rajon Rondo — and what we now have is a 2-2 tie in the Eastern Conference Finals. Yeah, in Sunday’s overtime win by Boston, we saw how brittle Boston’s bench is. It’s not a good idea to take strategic fouls early like Paul Pierce (23 points, six boards), because Marquis Daniels is not who you want in five minutes of OT. He’s been a model role player in the Celtics’ wins, for sure, but the C’s only saving grace was that the Heat’s LeBron James (29 points, six boards) also got knocked out because of foul trouble in extra time. It’s best two outta three from here on out and we can’t wait to see this thing keep going. And hey, speaking of role players who kept this run going, we can’t forget Mickael Pietrus (0 points, five boards). On three possessions in the second half he pressured the Heat on their defensive rebounds that led to turnovers. He created extra possessions there when he couldn’t get his hands on the ball. When he was tracking down offensive boards, which he did late in the game, too, including OT, he was the Celtics’ best rebounder not named Kevin Garnett (17 points, 14 rebounds). Let’s not forget, he sold a questionable sixth foul against LeBron, too. Those were huge turns in the game, but they won’t show up in the official book … The biggest questions, of course, were about the Heat’s late-game strategies in regulation and overtime. In OT Mario Chalmers (12 points, four dimes) was wide open in the top corner, but Dwyane Wade (20 points, seven boards, six assists) dribbled away from his side as the play developed. Was that Wade saying, “this is all me” or was it a distraction meant to swing the balance of Boston’s D left, giving him a lane to the right? Under that theory the drive-and-dish to Chalmers would be on the table. Wade, of course, just missed a three for the win, grimacing like he was Mike Miller (2 points) after the miss. It wasn’t a bad look, but there was no effort to get to the rim. What gives? Same with LeBron to end regulation, which was an unequivocally horrible final possession. LeBron dished to Udonis Haslem (12 points, 17 boards) off a pick-n-pop with three guys on the King. Haslem, of course, threw up an air ball after being given the rock with all of about two seconds to spot up at. Giving him the ball in that situation is an “option” in name only. … So to recap, everyone killed ‘Bron for passing to Haslem even though his option was just as terrible, and everyone is killing Wade for not passing. … But don’t forget that ‘Bron knocked down his first three of the game in the final minute of the fourth to tie. He was wide open, so wide open we thought he’d brick it for thinking too much. You can say what you will about his late-game shot, and we already have, but that was a big-time shot considering he wasn’t hitting anything close to, or over the three line all game. Hit the jump to hear about the incredible Rajon Rondo.

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Rajon Rondo (15 points and dimes) is setting the bar so high for himself. Next year he’ll make $11 million and that should go up to $16-$17 mil to really capture how well he’s taken his team over this year. Even South American dictators are taking notes on how seamlessly this happened. Overnight he went from a stat stud to the reason Boston is still playing. We saw a stat from ESPN about this: In the six minutes Rondo didn’t play tonight, Boston didn’t make a field goal within 20 feet. There’s no attack mode without him. Guys like Keyon Dooling (it’s still random he’s balling like this), who scored 10 points on three threes are feasting because of how paranoid Rondo is making foes. And he’s not content to let KG be his protector anymore, either. At halftime he told ESPN the Heat were crying to the refs. That’s ballsy. Bottom line, he’s playing like good music should sound. It’s effortless, inventive and yet altogether hard to precisely describe. … We hate to rain on the parade in Boston but doesn’t it feel like this is still hardly the C’s series? With Chris Bosh expected to play in Game 5, the dynamic will change in the series — heavily to Miami, that is. While Miami isn’t exactly the Dream Team of ’92 with their depth, they’ve still got the edge on Boston there, and their roster is still in the prime of their talent. The catalyst, though, is Rondo. As he goes, so goes Boston. … We’re out like Pierce & LeBron.

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