Celtics-Heat Game 3 Report Card: A sudden and unexpected shootout
Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
|The Celtics were a step quicker offensively in Game 3. (Getty Images)|
|Boston's offense||Here's the trick. You have to figure out whether this offensive explosion from the Celtics, which flies in the face of everything we know about them as a horrible, awful, no-good scoring unit, is a tactical adjustment, a focused barrage driven by intensity, or some weird fluke. Because if it's a fluke, it's one that is sustaining, which means it's very hard to define it as a fluke.
Boston fired off a 115.5 offensive rating in Game 3, with a 57.8 TrueShooting percentage. They poured the ball inside, they created space to drive the lane, and they found those little creases that make the difference. This series is no longer about the Heat trying to overcome the Celtics defense, which gave up a 100 efficiency to Miami (good not great by their standards in a win like this), but about Boston running and gunning their way to a win.
|LeBron James||34 points on 26 shots, 8 rebounds, five assists is a pretty good night at the office. But James missed four free throws and had three turnovers. He also allowed the Celtics to get him out of position with spacing and wasn't aggressive enough in transition. He didn't want to make a mistake but at some point you have to force the issue. A good night that would have been enough had the rest of the Heat shown up, but they didnt and his team needed great.|
|Celtic defense||They closed out on shooters better than they have in this series, and they managed to stay out of foul trouble. (I guess that vast dark conspiracy magically disappeared now that James and Wade combined for five free throw attempts.) But they also gave up a lot of transition points and got worked by Chalmers. A decent enough performance, but it wasn't the reason they won, for once.|
|Heat defense||The only thing that saves this unit from an F is that they honestly couldn't have done much. When Ray Allen is dunking and Marquis Daniels is taking over, there's just not much you can do. Erik Spoelstra gets major knocks here for not adjusting to the deep wing pick and roll and how they changed the spacing, and for not going to different looks on Kevin Garnett. The Heat were slow to adapt and it hurt them.|
|Officiating conspiracies||Somehow I don't think Doc Rivers will be talking about distractions. The reality is that the gavel swung very much the other way on the Celtics home floor and all those superstar calls that people talked about after Game 2 vanished. Mickael Pietrus out and out grabbed LeBron James in transition in the first half and there was nothing. This isn't to say the officiating had an effect on the game. Like in Game 2, it was what the winning team did that won the day, not the calls. But this game will shift the conversation from idiocy about the Heat getting special privelages to the Heat being done and doomed. It's just moving sand piles, though, really.|
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