After being tied 73-73 at the end of the third quarter, the Miami Heat would go on to outscore the Boston Celtics 28-15 in the fourth to win game 7 101-88 and become the 2012 Eastern Conference Champions.
The Heat will now move on to the NBA Finals against the Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 1 is this Tuesday night in OKC.
END OF AN ERA
The “Big Three” era in Boston is now more than likely over.
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are both unrestricted free-agents heading into the offseason. There are also rumors swirling that Kevin Garnett may be considering retirement.
But what a way to go out. Up until the fourth quarter, this game was very winnable for the Boston Celtics.
The team was firing on all cylinders in the first half. They shot 52%, 4 for 8 from three-point range and 7 for 8 from the free-throw line in the first 2 quarters to jump out to a 53-46 halftime lead. Brandon Bass came out blazing, scoring 14 points, grabbing 3 rebounds and stealing the ball 3 times. With Kevin Garnett in serious foul trouble (3), Bass was able to hold down the fort in the paint and be the recipient of some well-timed Rajon Rondo passes, who finished the first half with 10 assists and 0 turnovers.
Unfortunately for Boston, it was that fourth quarter that ultimately led to their demise. The Celtics went cold when it mattered most and they couldn’t recover. After momentum changing three-pointers from Chris Bosh and Shane Battier, the game and the series was then all but over.
Rajon Rondo finished game 7 with a triple-double of 22 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. In what could be their last game together as a trio, Kevin Garnett (14 points, 7 rebounds), Ray Allen (15 points, 3 three-pointers) and Paul Pierce (19 points, 4 rebounds) combined for 48 of the team’s 88 points.
Afterwards, the players and coach Doc Rivers became very emotional and rightfully so.
Whether you love the Celtics or you hate them, they have certainly earned the respect of all NBA fans around the league with their collective performance in this years playoffs. For a team that didn’t even reach the all-star break with a record above .500, they sure were close to reaching the promise land one more time.
If that was indeed the last time we see that core of Celtics players play together as one, then what an amazing 5 year stretch it’s been.
THE HEAT ARE BACK AGAIN
For the 2nd straight year, the Miami Heat will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Getting there wasn’t easy though.
Up until the last 7 or so minutes of the fourth quarter, the game and the win was very much in question.
Lebron James played all but 30 seconds of game 7 as he finished with a double-double of 31 points and 12 rebounds. He also got to the charity stripe 17 times, hitting 12. “The King” is playing out of this world basketball at the moment and is looking like a player who is motivated and determined to exercise his demons and win that allusive NBA Championship ring.
How about Chris Bosh? CB1 came off the bench to score 19 points on 8 for 10 shooting. He also shot a very uncharacteristic 3 for 4 from three-point range, with 2 key makes in the fourth quarter. The Heat did find success without Chris earlier in these playoffs, but the dynamic of this team is drastically different when he is on the court. He was their X-factor in game 7, that’s for sure.
Dwayne Wade also had an effective day shooting the ball, as he finished with 23 points on 8 for 17 shooting. He also chipped in 6 rebounds and 6 assists as well.
The collective play of Miami’s “Big Three” was too much for Boston to overcome in that final quarter. Those 3 individuals scored every single one of the Heat’s 28 points in the 4th. The Celtics looked fatigued and defeated once the Heat took the lead. They never looked back.
Now with the Eastern Conference Championship wrapped up and won, the bigger prize is just around the corner. The Heat’s season will be defined by what they do in this next series. It’s Championship or bust in South Beach.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Larry O’Brien trophy await.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”We had nothing left. That’s how it felt, as a coach. … But overall, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a group like this.” – Celtics coach Doc Rivers
”That’s what we talk about. It has to be a collective group to win the championship. Everybody was in tune today. We wanted to give our fans a big win. We look forward to the next challenge.” – Heat forward Lebron James
TWEET OF THE GAME
Heat dancing in the locker room. That’s right. Soak in this moment, Miami. It’s your last series victory for awhile. #ThunderUp
— James Harden’s Beard (@HardenBeard) June 10, 2012
– Who taught the Miami Heat players how to dance?
– A lot of grief has been given to Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett for leaving the court before the game had ended and refusing to shake the hands of the Heat players. So what? Who cares really. Why should they want to shake their hands? Why would they want to stay out their and watch Miami celebrate? I don’t blame them one bit and neither should anyone else.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports