Rajon Rondo didn’t rest for a second, playing 53 minutes and scoring a career high of 44 points. It was only enough to get the Celtics into overtime against the Miami Heat, losing 111-115 to go down 0-2 as they head back to Boston.
LeBron James was far from perfect, but shooting with accuracy wasn’t the only thing he could contribute. James finished with 34 points, leading the Miami Heat, adding 10 rebounds, 7 assists. He scored more than half of his points from the line, going 18-24, including some big basket and offensive rebounds in overtime.
Dwayne Wade struggled to get in rythm early on, missing 7 of his first 8 shots, but he finished with 23 points, including one huge and-one basket over Kevin Garnett and two huge blocks to thwart Celtics fast breaks.
The Celtics had a 15 point lead at one point, but they also managed to turn around a 7 point deficit in the fourth quarter. Rajon Rondo did everything humanly possible, including outside shooting, passing (10 assists); Everything the Celtics could dream he’d have. Aggressive, commanding. Eventually, it wasn’t enough. The Heat started switching players on him in frantic pace, slowing him down, while Ray Allen faded away (13 points, 43 minutes) and Paul Pierce (21 points) fouled out.
The lack of depth on the Celtics’ bench was exposed – Rondo couldn’t rest while Pierce, Pietrus and Dooling fouled out. There wasn’t much left for Doc Rivers to throw on the wings. Kevin Garnett was great on defense and especially when the Celtics’ double team on Dwyane Wade seemed to be working. He also finished with 18 points, but the Celtics had trouble closing down the paint, allowing 13 offensive rebounds for the Miami Heat.
Role players? Mario Chalmers actually went head to head with Rondo for the first three quarters, finishing with 22 points. The moment James and Wade get substantial offensive help from one and a half players, they’re nearly impossible to beat. Along with the lenient home-court refereeing, the Celtics were simply outnumbered in the closing minutes.
Shane Battier added 9 points, playing 46 minutes in a weird postseason twist for him, filling in for the absent Chris Bosh. Udonis Haslem added great defense on Rajon Rondo, one big basket off a LeBron James assist in overtime that gave the Heat the final lead (after a non-called foul on Rondo) and 13 big points.
The Heat survived despite not shooting well (44.6%) and Rondo’s incredible night. LeBron James struggled with his shooting but was aggressive by going to the basket almost every time. But he could have won the game twice in regulation, missing a tough shot in the paint and the potential game winner by not pushing the ball against Rondo, settling for a tough jumper.
The Celtics are in that place that hardly anyone comes back from. Rajon Rondo showed he deserves to be respected as an outside shooter, but the Celtics played as well as they could have in the first half. It wasn’t enough. The Miami Heat didn’t need LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at their best to win this tough one. Doc Rivers has to be worried going into game 3.