The Boston Celtics avoided going down 0-3 in their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Miami Heat thanks to a 101-91 Game 3 victory at TD Garden that was fueled by their bench.
The Celtics desperately needed their bench to play better at both ends of the floor if they wanted to make this a competitive series.
Miami made the game really interesting in the fourth quarter, when an 11-0 run got them to within single digits with about half the quarter to play. However, Boston made enough shots to avoid another heartbreaking collapse.
Now, the Celtics have to give another impressive performance in Game 4 to send the series back to Miami all tied up at 2-2. Boston was not able to do that in last year’s conference semifinals series when it lost Game 4 at home and was eliminated in Game 5.
Let’s recap an exciting Celtics win over the Heat in Game 3.
Would the Celtics ever consider trading Rajon Rondo after his impressive playoff performances?
Rajon Rondo’s trade value will be at an all-time high this summer. If Boston doesn’t want to build around him, now is the time to trade him.
LeBron James did have teammates in Game 3, but they weren’t much help:
An InsideHoops source says #Heat star LeBron James has teammates. Still awaiting confirmation
— InsideHoops.com (@InsideHoops) June 1, 2012
Detroit Pistons beat writer Vincent Goodwill appreciates Rajon Rondo’s value to the Celtics:
There’s a reason I had Rondo on my MVP ballot…
— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) June 1, 2012
ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh shares an interesting stat on D-Wade:
Dwyane Wade’s scoring average this series: 1st half 4.6 pts – 2nd half 18.5 pts.
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 1, 2012
Watch Rondo fake out Udonis Haslem and score an easy two points.
Watch James make a tough shot while being fouled.
Watch Garnett do some pushups after falling to the ground hard.
Grades for Key Celtics Players
Rajon Rondo: A-
Rondo was once again the catalyst for Boston, as he pushed the pace and ran the offense effectively throughout the game.
He finished with 21 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. He did a great job of attacking the Miami defense and creating good shots for teammates.
Marquis Daniels: A+
Why an A+ for Marquis Daniels? The Celtics absolutely had to have a bench player step up and be a factor at both ends of the floor, and Daniels was that man in Game 3.
Daniels played strong defense on LeBron James, he drew fouls and he scored nine points. If Daniels can give the Celtics another performance like that, then Boston will have a strong chance to win Game 4 on Sunday night.
Grades for Key Heat Players
LeBron James: A
James was one of the few Heat players who played well for four quarters. He set the tone early with 11 first-quarter points and finished the night with 34. He also added eight rebounds and five assists.
He had to take 26 shots because Wade and the Miami role players were struggling all night. The Game 3 loss cannot be blamed on James.
Dwyane Wade: C
Without Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade has needed to step up his game offensively and be a big-time scorer for the Heat, which he’s done throughout the majority of the playoffs.
He didn’t do that in Game 3, though, and it was a primary reason why the Heat lost. Wade shot 9-of-20 from the field and finished the game with 18 points.
Wade needs to take better shots and attack the basket more in Game 4. He really gets his game going when he gets to the free-throw line, but he shot zero free throws in Game 3.
Game MVP: Kevin Garnett
Garnett was huge in Game 3, giving the Celtics 24 important points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He was also a plus-27.
KG shot 10-of-16 from the field and gave the Celtics a good defensive performance in the paint.
Deciding Factor: Bench Play
The Heat bench had outplayed the Celtics bench in the first two games of the series, and it was a major reason why Miami took a 2-0 series lead.
Marquis Daniels and Keyon Dooling gave the Celtics 16 points and nine rebounds combined. They also shot a combined 7-of-10 from the field.
Daniels’ and Mickael Pietrus’ defense on James and Wade was fantastic all night.
Game 4 of the series will be Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden in Boston.
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