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The one that got away…Miami defeats Boston 98-90 in OT

Posted By Warren Shaw On May 10 2011 @ 1:10 am In Boston Celtics | No Comments

The Boston Celtics knew that they needed to win Game 4 to make Game 3′s win more than just cosmetic. For the better part of Game 4 it looked like Boston would be heading back to South Beach with a 2-2 tie in the series. Looks would again prove to be deceiving as another 4th quarter offensive drought would seal the Celtics fate in a 98-90 loss in over time.  The Miami Heat’s 3 superstars put on hero like efforts scoring 83 of the team’s 98 points. LeBron James led all scorers with 35, followed by Dwayne Wade’s 28 and Chris Bosh’s 20. Boston got solid performances from Paul Pierce (27 points) and Ray Allen (17 points) but Kevin Garnett’s 1-10 shooting performance for 7 points coupled with abysmal late game execution made the difference in this pivotal game.

This was a never say die game for both teams. It came down to great players who made great plays for Miami and Boston’s inability to execute down the stretch.  Even with Rajon Rondo playing with one arm, Boston still had every opportunity to even the series. In the fourth quarter with Miami ahead 81-78, Boston got back to back three pointers from Delonte West and Ray Allen to pull ahead 84-81. With one stop Boston might have been able to seal the victory after staving off a furious Miami attack, but it was not to be.

In what was one of the biggest shots of the season, James buried a 3 over Pierce to tie the game at 84. In hindsight Allen said he wished Pierce had crowded James to force him to drive. The percentages say you want LeBron taking that shot especially as contested as it was by Pierce, but again great players make great plays.  Boston would botch multiple possessions and see James give Miami a 2 point lead before Pierce would tie the game at 86. LeBron would fumble the ball away with just over 19 seconds to play giving Boston a chance to take the last shot for the win.

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Pierce reacts after the final play of regulation goes awry (Photo Courtesy of AP)

What ensued was just downright shameful from a Celtic perspective.  After a timeout, a play was drawn up for Allen and Pierce to rub off of Garnett screens. Pierce would receive the ball at the top of the key but Garnett and Allen would engage in the pasodoble on the opposite end of the floor unable to complete the play. Pierce, stunned by their ineffieciency, was forced to attempt an off balance jumper as James contested. It did not fall and before he could get back to the bench Pierce would yell in disgust “What are you doing?” at his dancing teammates.

Once the game got into OT it was all Miami as the Boston struggles continued offensively. Boston’s lone advantage over Miami is (or was) their ability to execute in late game situations. Once they let the game get into OT the game’s outcome was all but decided. Giving an opportunity to James and Wade, two of the top 4 players in basketball, to dominate a game for just 5 minutes was suicide and it did indeed prove to be a fatal outcome for Boston.  “We just had poor execution down the stretch,” Pierce said. “It just carried into overtime, it seemed like. We feel like tonight we beat ourselves.”

This loss was by far the worst of the season. Yes Rondo is hurt. Yes Boston got nothing from its bench or Garnett. Yes they again got killed on the glass (45-28). And YES they still could have and should have won. This loss hurt, it hurt a lot but will it be completely debilitating? Boston now faces a 3-1 deficit and will try to avoid elimination and extinction if you look at the history of the once elite NBA teams this season.

“These are those moments. I look forward to it,” Allen said in reference to the team’s predicament. “Everybody on this team, we know what to do. We can’t talk about it; we just have to put our best foot forward. It’s not easy. It just makes it that much more special if we’re able to do it.” Game 5 is Wednesday night in Miami.

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