First game of the stretch run almost made me forget we were still in the regular season. Bad jokes aside, this one definitely had a playoff atmosphere. Boston jumped out to an early lead because Miami was playing straight up lazy on D. Things started to unravel when the Cs went deeper into their bench, as Pavlovic started fouling like there was no tomorrow, and Miami slowly crept back.
Lebron scored a whole bunch of points, but it was very quiet, they were spread throughout the majority of the game, he never really went on a scoring run, just chipped in a bucket every so often and it all added up. Lebron's midrange game was deadly though, he hit at least five fallaway buckets off the dribble, and they were all swishes. Wade came up big in the 4th even though Miami lost, he had some absolutely spectacular drives to the basket. I'd forgotten just how shifty he is with the ball in his hands, and Tyreke Evans should watch game film of Wade's performance today to learn how to use that amazing handle of his to full effect.
Pierce turned back the clock and was hitting some ridiculous turnarounds, and several transition 3s as well. Allen looked strong early but got lost in the shuffle in the second half, not contributing a whole lot, but spacing the floor and running the point for stretches with Rondo on the bench. Garnett was great, he was knocking down open jumpers, scoring in the post and being a nuisance defensively, although he's definitely lost a step laterally. Rondo had a brilliant first half, shooting (and making) jumpers without hesitation, finding the open man and leading the break. However, he started to really doubt himself down the stretch and was extremely hesitant to take jumpers with the shot clock running down, which resulted in a few costly turnovers. That said, when his scoring dropped off he went right back to dropping dimes, and had a number of brilliant no look passes to trailers behind him. Bradley hit a few jumpers, bothered Wade for the most part and had one great transition dunk, but wasn't much of a factor.
I haven't watched too many Celtics games since the break, but Bass has struck me as the weak link in this team. When the Celtics were needing buckets in the second half Bass was hesistant to take the open looks Rondo was providing him, and took the offence out of rhythm as a result. Defensively, his lack of length caused him to bite on every fake and he turns side on to attempt to block a shot, which more often than not allowed his opponent to go right by him for a layup. He's just an awful defender, and they need to find a real starting 4/5 next season, because Bass is a bench guy on a contender, especially one like Boston which hangs its hat on D.
Overall a fun game to watch, Miami really turned it on defensively in the second half, and Boston was forced to get buckets on isolations, they were being hounded constantly. If the Celtics can get Pietrus healthy and back in the rotation to take Pavlovic's minutes then I like their chances of upsetting either Indiana or Chicago to make it to the ECF against Miami, if they can just stay healthy. Boston play the Heat once more in the regular season, and it could be huge in determining seeding for Miami, definitely looking forward to it.
Coming up tomorrow, Pistons vs Bobcats, will have a few more young prospects to write about this time around.