Kevin Garnett was the player to remember from the Boston Celtics Game 3 win over the Miami Heat, 101-91. For his knuckle push ups, for his dunk on LeBron James, and for just how good the Boston Celtics were every second he was on the floor.
Kevin Garnett made the most of the 34 minutes he spent on the floor, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds, but the most impressive of his stats was the +27, more than anyone else on the Celtics team. Rajon Rondo had another good night with 21 points and 10 assists, while Paul Pierce as involved early on, finishing with 23 points after a bad night from the field.
But all that didn’t matter. The Heat went small for many moments in the game. Turiaf and Joel Anthony, who didn’t really manage to handle Garnett, partying in the paint (58-46 Boston), played a combined of 21 minutes. LeBron James and Udonis Haslem spent long minutes guarding Garnett. No wonder many of Boston’s points came from lobbing the ball to KG in the paint.
This was the spark of energy, of old school style, that Boston needed. Garnett doing push ups after being slammed to the ground. He got a technical for an elbow to Chalmers face, but didn’t lose his cool. He was great on defense and on offense, allowing the Celtics to dominate through the second and third quarters, keeping themselves too far away from the Miami Heat.
Marquis Daniels and Keyon Dooling came out of nowhere with 16 points. Players sometimes forgotten on the edge of the bench, model professionalism. Came out, added 16 points, nine rebounds and a whole lot of heart and defense. The Heat did get a few points from their bench, mostly from Mike Miller who kept hobbling his way to 11 points. Not enough when Dwyane Wade can’t keep up with LeBron James, finishing with only 18 points.
LeBron had the Heat running in the start. Pushing the ball into the paint, be it after a Celtics basket or in a half court set. The Heat looked prepared and aggressive in the first quarter. James went 7-9 in the first 12 minutes, finishing with 34 points and 8 rebounds. But he was too alone in the battle. The Heat were too tentative for long stretches of the game. The C’s defense clamped down on them, and the Miami stars and co. simply didn’t respond. Not enough energy, not enough will, not enough killer instinct, or all of the above.
When the Heat made a late fourth quarter surge from a +20 point deficit to a single digit one, it was again James in the forefront. He does give you this feeling that when he makes up his mind and puts himself fully into the action, he can score at will. But guarding Garnett on the other end didn’t make things easy for him. Bad execution (Shane Battier with 0 points) and another bad night from the line, 10-20, were too much for James to overcome.
The Celtics have found their key – Kevin Garnett, on both ends of the floor. The problems is how the Miami Heat react. How do Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf react and adjust, because I don’t see Spoelstra winning Game 2 by going small all night. It leaves James too vulnerable and inefficient on defense, having to handle KG. Adjustments, again, must be made, in order for the Miami Heat to take the series back to Miami with only one win needed to clinch the series.