Czar’s Playoff Preview: Heat vs. Celtics Game 3

The ECF resume tonight in Boston for Game 3, and the one certainty is that the 17-banner Celtics must win. No NBA team has ever come back to capture a playoff series after being down 0-3.

On Wednesday night in Miami the Heat bested the C’s 115-111 in OT. PG Rajon Rondo had perhaps the best game of his career going for 44 points, 10 dimes and 8 boards while playing every second of the 53-minute playoff classic. He also scored all of the Celtics’ 12 points in overtime.

Boston’s Big 4 combined for 96 points (the most they’ve ever totaled as a group), but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the Heat. 2012 MVP LeBron James had 34, 10 and 7 and got to the charity stripe 24 times. Dwyane Wade scored 23 points, and PG Mario Chalmers chipped in 22 points including several lethal 3-point daggers.

A lot of the postgame talk centered on the officiating. The Heat took 47 free throws to the C’s 29 attempts. Notable were two instances in the extra period. First, Rondo drove to the basket hard with a mismatched Udonis Haslem checking him, and when Wade came over to help he clearly hit the Boston 1-guard in the head. At that point the score was tied at 105 and the no-call made Rondo furious.

Then with 59 seconds to go, Wade attacked the rim, scored and drew a foul from Kevin Garnett. It appeared on the replay that Wade actually kicked KG while in the air to create space for his shot. The Green Team fandom was upset and felt the zebras affected the outcome of the pivotal contest.

However, the Celts find themselves down 0-2 due to multiple other factors. The Heat grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and made ten 3-bombs, while their bench outscored Boston’s 28 to 7. In addition, the Miami subs had 17 boards and 6 assists to the C’s 5 and 1. The Heat totaled 24 assists to Boston’s 15 and also tallied more blocks and steals.

Both Miami and Boston will look to improve on areas of weakness tonight. The Heat missed 16 of their 47 free throw attempts on Wednesday. The Celtics have had trouble in these playoffs protecting big leads. They led by 15 in the first half in Game 2 and let Miami erase that hole rather quickly.

These two sides know one another well and are very familiar with each other’s sets and objectives. So the winner of tonight’s game will be determined by poise and execution. Doc Rivers’ guys have their backs against the wall, and Erik Spoelstra’s squad would love to get this game to effectively secure a return trip to the Finals. The Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Game 3 will tip off at 8:30 PM ET on TNT.

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