Boston Celtics took Game 4 to OT to level the Eastern Conference Finals 2-2 at TD Garden. Great defensive plays meant that only 6 points were scored in OT when the score was 89-89 at the end of regular time.
Celtics dominated Q1 from the start leading 34-23 at the end of first quarter. Poor shooting and poor offensive play from the Heat in Q1 meant that they were 2-9 FGs, 0-1 3Ps and had 3 turnovers in the first 6:30 minutes. Some highlights of Q1 were -
1. Rondo signalling for Allen to come out for the three at 7:00 and a swift feed from Rondo and even quicker release from Allen nailing the three to take the score to 14-4 in favor of Celtics.
2. Pierce’s driving Layup missed the basket but an offensive rebound by him and a tag team play with Garnett ending in a 3 point shot by Pierce being converted taking the lead to 15 for the Celtics with the score 6-21. This also exposed the poor defensive rebounding by the Heat in Q1.
3. Heat were showing determination and James made it clear with a drive in dunk shot escaping Pietrus and Pierce to take Miami to a mini-run of 5-0 to bring down the lead to 10 points at 21-11 in favor of Celtics.
4. The play was followed by an amazing layup wherein he faked Wade first and then went in then caught Battier in a wrong move to make the basket to make it 23-11 for the Celtics.
Q1 ended with Heat’s shooting getting better at 11-19 FGs, 0-3 3Ps and 4 turnovers compared with the Celtics’s 10-17 FGs, 3-5 3Ps, 5-5 FTs and 5 turnovers with the score 34-23.
Celtics edged out the Heat who were coming back into the game in Q2 winning the quarter by 27-24 thus ending the first half with a score of 61-57 with a 14 point cushion.
The lead for the Celtics went upto 17 in the first 2:30 minutes of Q2 with three continuous 3Ps from the Celtics. The lead jumped to a Game high of 18 with 2:30 remaining in Q2 only for the Heat to cut it by 4 points.
Q2 ended with Heat 6-7 at free throw line, 6-13 FGs, 2-4 3Ps and 5 turnovers and the Celtics with 4-4 FTs, 7-14 FGs, 3-10 3Ps and 2 turnovers and Q2 was more of a James – Pierce showdown with both taking the maximum number of shots and converting maximum number of points for their teams.
Pierce had 18 points, Allen with 11 points, Garnett with 9 points and 8 rebounds and Rondo with 8 points and 10 assists for the Celtics while James had 18 points, 4 turnovers and Wade with 8 points and 3 assists for the Heat in the first half.
Some highlights of Q2 were -
1. Rondos drive-in fake leaving Pierce free for the 3P shot from zero and passing it to Pierce, who nails the open three to make it 42-26 for the Celtics.
2. Ray Allen‘s superb three beating off Chalmers with a little bit of help from Bass who screened Chalmers leaving it open for Allen to nail the three making it 50 – 32 for the Celtics.
3. Rondo’s alley pass over his guard Chalmers to Garnett who converts the shot and draws the foul from Joel Anthony making it a 3 point play to make it 52 – 36 for the Celtics.
4. Garnett making the long pass to Pierce and the Celtics captain nailing the long two off balance with one foot and drawing the foul from the Heat captain Wade to make it a 3 point play as he converted from the free throw line making it 58-40 for the Celtics.
The half time break was what the Heat needed to regroup, intensify their game and shift the momentum from the Celtics to the Heat. That is what happened in the second half and the Heat made it clear from the start of the second half.
The 3rd quarter started off with lots of shots being taken in the first 2 minutes but none converted. Heat missed four shots while Celtic could attempt only twice with one Turnover by Bass.
Chalmers opened the scoring with a layup which was followed by a Rondo turnover and a Chalmers missed shot. Rondo opened the scoring for the Celtics in the next play by a beautiful finger roll layup to make it 63-49 to Celtics. Celtics extended their lead to 16 with a Pierce layup and a Rondo assist.
Miami pulled back 7 points in the next 2:30 minutes and cutting down the lead to 9 to make it 56-65. Celtics responded and the lead went back to 12 with 2:21 remaining in Q3. But another 7 staright points by Heat cut the lead down to 5 at the end of Q3 and the score reading 68-73. The Celtics missed three shots and two free throws in these 2 minutes of play.
Miami won the Q3 21-12 but still were trailing by 5 at 68-73. Heat were 4-6 from the free throw line in Q3, 7-14 FGs, 1-3 3Ps had 2 turnovers and 14 rebounds as compared to Celtics 1-4 FTs, 4-12 FGs, 1-4 3Ps, 3 turnovers and 9 rebounds. Wade was the leading scorer for Heat with 9 points in Q3 while Dooling for Celtics and James for Heat managed 4 points in Q3.
Q3 did not have many impressive plays with the Celtics just trying to foul their opponents and also were out-rebounded by 5.
But there were two impressive ones -
1. James cutting through the Celtics defense into two and driving in with a layup dunk shot with 4:47 remaining and cutting the lead by two to make it 58-67
2. The long three pointer by Wade with his left hand jumping above Kevin Garnett with 30 seconds remaining in Q3 to make it 68-73
Q4 also started in the same lines as of Q3 with only 2 points being scored in the first 2:30 minutes and both being through free throws one for Celtics and one for Heat.
Heat were 0-3 FGs and 1-2 FTs in this period while Celtics were 0-2 FGs, 0-2 3Ps and 1-2 FTs. A Battier 3 point shot and 2 layups from James and Cole meant a 8-1 run for the heat in Q4 and a 15-1 run in the last 6:30 minutes and this meant that Heat lead the Game for the first time 76-74.
Garnett’s driving layup shot meant that Celtics evened with 76-76 but Cole’s 2-3 FTs regained the lead for the Heat which was short lived when Allen nailed a 3 pointer to make it 79-78 for the Celtics. The lead went to 3 points when Garnett tipped in the ball which rebounded from a Bass’s jump shot making it 81-78 for the Celtics. Heat were even after a Wade’s 1-2 from the free throw line and a dunk shot to make it 81-81 with 5:10 remaining.
Haslem’s FTs regained the lead for the Heat only to be cut off by a Pierce layup shot making it 83-83 with 4:08 remaining in the quarter. Rondo pulled back the lead for the Celtics with a running layup shot which was cut down by one by James who was 1-2 from the free throw line. Garnett made it a 3 point lead with a jump shot with 2:43 remaining.
Chalmers cut down the lead by two with a driving layup shot and Garnett responded by another layup shot making it 3 point lead with 52.4 seconds remaining. Miami levelled with a 3 point shot by James after a superb play by Wade making it 89-89 with 37.5 on the clock. Celtics looked to seal it with thie play but a Garnett offensive foul lead to a turn over with 21.1 on the clock. It was a perfect chance for the heat but they let it go as the buzzer beater jump shot for Haslem missed the target.
The Heat were 7-11 from the free throw line, 4-10 FGs, 2-5 3Ps, 4 turnovers and 10 rebounds while the Celtics were 1-2 FTs, 6-14 FGs, 1-4 3Ps, 4 turnovers and 8 rebounds.
Celtics were again out-rebounded in the 4th quarter if only by two but 11 free throws for the Heat to 2 free throws for the Celtics meant that Celtics had committed more fouls than the Heat.
Some impressive plays in Q4 are -
1. Chalmers drive in layup evading the duo of Pietrus and Allen to convert it and just avoiding an inbound Paul Pierce with 1:01 remaining.
2. Rondo passes to Garnett avoiding his marker Haslem and Garnett nudges back James takes the pass turns around jumping and hence avoiding Battier to make the jump shot and take the lead to 3 points with 54 seconds left in Q4.
3. James brilliantly moved across the offensive 3 point line with the ball in Wade’s hand and loosing his marker Pietrus to Wade which meant Wade was double teamed by Pietrus and Pierce and James became free at the right end. Wade quickly passed it onto James who released the ball before Pierce could get to him nailing the 3 pointer and tying the Game with 38.6 remaining on the clock.
4. Defensive play by Garnett after he was called for an offensive foul where he covered James along the offensive court making him pass to Haslem but Garnett was very swift and reached Haslem in time not giving him space to shoot and followed him as he moved to take his jump shot which could not make the target thus ending at 89-89.
The overtime started with a missed jump shot from James which Garnett rebounds and Celtics push for the attack where Pierce committed an offensive foul on Battier, his sixth of the Game and so fouled out for the second time in this series with 4:22 on the clock. 1:30 minutes into the OT and Haslem’s driving dunk gives the Heat a two point advantage with the scored poised at 91-89. Battier then fouled Daniels sending Daniels to the free throw line from where he could only convert one of the two making it 91-90 in favor of Heat with 3:14 on the clock.
Chalmers attempted a three which he could not convert but the ball came back to him this time the shot was blocked by Garnett who notched up his fifth block and thirteenth rebound for the match. This was followed by a quick play by Boston where Rondo drove in and put in a running layup to make it 92-91 for the Celtics with 2:33 remaining.
James missed his jump shot which was rebounded by Garnett and it was followed by a quick drive in layup by Rondo which he could not convert. Haslem took the rebound and passed it to a fast-breaking James who was caught up with Pietrus and was adjudged to foul him. This meant it was his sixth foul of the Game and seventh turn over and he had to watch the rest of the match from the bench. That was the first time he was fouled out for the Heat and fourth overall in NBA.
This was followed by three consecutive shot misses by the Celtics and one by Heat. Chalmers then fouled Rondo with 21.4 seconds remaining when he got away to an empty offensive court and would have surely converted the layup. Rondo went to the FT line and could only convert his second shot making it 93-91 in favor of the Celtics. Celtics still had a foul to give and they fouled with 14 seconds remaining. Rondo was guarding Wade who had the ball with Daniels taking Battier but keeping an eye on Wade’s movement. Battier screened Wade from Rondo and immediately Daniels shifted to Wade. Wade had to give a fake and get Daniels off him and had to shoot as soon as he got Daniels off his back. He gives the fake moves aside jumps and shoots the 3 pointer for the win but fails to convert and Celtics hold on to another nervous finish to take Game 4.
Celtics shot their second worst shooting average this series they were 0.412 FGs, 0.333 3Ps and 0.7 FTs. The Heat were equally bad in the shooting department with o.425 FGs, 0.316 3Ps and 0.708 FTs. In the first half Celtics were 100% from the free throw line, 55.56 % from the three point line and 54.84 % in the two point shooting area so we can see how much their game decreased in the second half. Celtics were out-rebounded by 7 in the second half where as they out rebounded the Heat by 8 in the first half. Heat were 64.7 % from the FT line, 45.8% FGs and 33.3% from the three point line. Celtcs maintained a poor shooting through out the match but won the air0ball duels in the second half.
Both teams need to improve their shooting with Celtics needing to work more on that. The number of FT attempts by Heat means they were fouled very much by the Celtics which they have to look into and Pierce has to consider his playing style as this is the second time he was fouled out in the Series.
For Heat they need to try bringing in Bosh even if for a while only to stop Kevin Garnett or need to work out a plan B. They need to use Chalmers more or bring in Miller when Wade is being double teamed. We have seen what Miller can do with his 3 pointers. We have not seen Miami take advantage of Wade being double teamed. Battier has been very good in the defense and managed to draw quite a few offensive fouls too. Haslem has been very good with the rebounding and maybe he and James should double team Garnett at the ring for the rebounds. Haslem also should improve upon the passing he was guilty of two very loose passes today.
Bass has to improve his game a lot and not give away those easy fouls, he gives the fouls very easily. Celtics need to get better in the air and keep the intensity up the whole game. They do have the fear of Bosh being introduced in Game 5 if only for some time. They need to play cautiously while he is there and take advantage of his lack of match practice and full fitness if at all he is introduced. They need to keep Wade out and make him work his way into the paint which he tried to in this game but was not much successful.
All in all an all important game is up at Miami for both the teams where Heat would love to win this so if they lose at Celtics they would still have the home court advantage in Game 7. Celtics would also like to win Game 5 as it would mean they would have the chance to carry the momentum and finish off the Heat in Game 6 at TD Garden.