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If the Miami Heat weren’t worried before, now might be the time to start. In a game that was never really close, the Celtics put on a virtual clinic beating the Heat 112-107 in a game they never trailed.
The Heat kept insisting that they had become a better team since the last time these two teams met in Boston. If that was the case, then the Celtics have improved tenfold. Last year’s Heat couldn’t beat Boston, LeBron James couldn’t beat Boston, and now the two together have yet to accomplish the challenge this year, either.
Ray Allen sizzled with 7 three-pointers and 35 points on the night. It came easy for Allen, too. He was often wide open as the Heat continue to play suspect defense. Allen kept running the perimeter, and he kept getting open. It marks the 22nd time Allen has hit 7 three-pointers in a game. His smile, as he coolly ran back up the court, said it all.
After the game, Dwyane Wade spoke about how the Heat were the “best 5-4 team in the league,” and I’m not even sure if he’s right about that. He also said adversity early could be a good thing and went out of his way to praise the Celtics, reminding us that they are the best team in the Eastern Conference. This was a win for the Celtics that lived up to the hype.
Rajon Rondo had 16 assists, a tally that is now becoming predictable. Though passes are what he does best, it was a drive and dunk on Chris Bosh that reverberated back to Boston. Late in the first quarter with Rondo near the top of the key, Glen Davis made a charging pick on Eddie House. Rondo didn’t hesitate, accelerated and dunked on Bosh so hard that he came down flat on his backside. Bosh, meanwhile, was frozen. As for Davis, he also drew yet another offensive foul, giving him 15 charges taken already this season. Paul Pierce had 25 for the C’s, including a nifty scoop from five feet out to beat the buzzer and give the Celtics a 61-46 advantage going into halftime.
LeBron James did show up, putting up an awesome line of 35-10-9-3. Problem was, the rest of the Heat struggled mightily for most of the game. Wade scored only 8 points on a night where he was only 2 of 12 from the floor. Bosh had a quiet 15 points and 7 rebounds for Miami.
It took Udonis Haslem, who came off the bench, to finally make some noise for Miami. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra desperately tried anything he could – giving Mario Chalmers minutes, starting Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the second half – but it was Haslem who was able to allow the Heat to come within striking distance in the final minutes. They came as close as 110-107 after two Haslem free throws, but Allen sealed the win with a pair of free throws of his own.
Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 13 rebounds including a huge and-one dunk which silenced the Miami crowd. The Celtics bench also continues to impress as Miami’s 6-11 looked rather thin. Heat G Mike Miller said earlier in the day that he hopes to be available by Christmas.
I don’t think that’s the Christmas gift the Heat had in mind.