Coming into Sunday's hotly anticipated matchup, the Boston Celtics were severely undermanned, missing five players due to various injuries (Shaquille O'Neal, Achilles tendon; Jermaine O'Neal, who even knows anymore; Delonte West, wrist; Semih Erden, adductor strain; Marquis Daniels, bruised spinal cord) and were coming off a tough loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, losing their place atop the Eastern Conference to the Miami Heat.
The Heat, much younger and largely healthy, came into the game looking to finally beat Boston this year, after going 0-2 against the Celtics this year prior to Sunday. Despite the Celtics' injuries, the game was to be played at TD Garden, and the Celtics always seem to find a way to win, even when the situation appears bleak.
Today was no different.
After a bruising and at times sloppy game, the Green once again emerged victorious over the Heat, beating LeBron and the LeBronettes (sorry, I mean the other Big Three), 85-82.
Kevin Garnett scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the way, and Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Glen Davis scored 16 points off the bench, Kendrick Perkins scored 15, Ray Allen scored 13, Von Wafer scored 10 and Paul Pierce only scored a single point, going 0-for-10 from the field.
Latest word is that Pierce's left foot and right hand were bothering him today. Updates from the Celtics will hopefully come down soon.
For the Heat, Chris Bosh led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds, followed by LeBron James with 22 points and Dwyane Wade with 16 points. Beyond that, scoring from Miami was scarce, with no other players in double digits.
The Celtics trailed at various times in the first half, and were down 43-39 after 24 minutes of play. Boston would go on to outscore the Heat 46-39 in the second half, and managed to effectively limit LeBron's ability to drive the lane and run the offense inside.
The Celtics frontcourt finally wore down the Heat's bigs, with KG, Perk and Big Baby finding ways to assert themselves in the paint, only being out-rebounded by the Heat 41-40 by game's end.
The Celtics built up a 13-point lead by the middle of the third quarter, but the Heat climbed back into the game late and was only down 83-82. However, Glen Davis sunk two clutch free throws, and the Celtics held off a late Mike Miller three-point attempt and a missed shot by LeBron.
Both teams struggled for four quarters, playing at the mercy of the officials, who often applied infractions inconsistently, often allowing hip-checking and in-the-jersey play by the Heat while appearing to call fouls on the Celtics for even the slightest bit of contact. Eventually the Celtics found a rhythm, and played a far cleaner and crisper second half.
The Celtics managed to pick a hard-fought victory today, despite their being severely depleted and with the Heat on a hot streak. The Celtics are now 3-0 against Miami this season, and have proven once again that even injured and old, they are still the team to beat in the East.
Go Green 18!