The final Celtics Heat installment of the season lacked many storylines on Friday night. Coming in Doc Rivers announced the team would be without their veteran leaders Pierce and Garnett as they would both be sidelined with ankle left ankle injuries. As the Celtics look to prepare for the playoffs the team face two final back to back series. With a depleted roster Doc looked to manage the "old" players minutes and surprised the media earlier today expressing he'd be testing out a unconventional starting line-up.
The team came out with a starting line-up of Bradley, Lee, Crawford, Green, and Bass. They got off to a great start in the game, winning the first quarter 27-17 yet followed it up by allowing the most points scored in the second quarter this year with 41. With Pierce and KG out the typical reserves saw extended playing time and managed to stay in the game for the most part. Nevertheless the healthy Heat squad proved to be too much as the Celtics lost 109-101.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) takes a shot against Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 12, 2013 in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Like every game this year without Pierce and KG, the team looked to Jeff Green for a major contribution. He did just that both offensively and defensively scoring 25 points and limiting LeBron's opportunities. In fact, Green came close to a triple double finishing with a stat line of 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. He played extremely well with numerous highlight dunks but gave Celtic nation a scare as he left the game with a elbow injury. Green drove in and threw down a thunderous dunk over Chris "Birdman" Anderson but came down hard on his elbow which was later diagnosed as just a bad bruise. At this point the Celtics can't sustain any more injuries especially to Green who they'll certainly rely on in the playoffs.
Lee, Crawford, and Bass also had very effective nights as each scored in double digits. Lee shot 50% in the game good for 18 points and helped Bradley contain Dwayne Wade. Crawford had arguably his best game as a Celtic finishing with 20 points on 7-15 rebounds to go along with 4 rebounds and 2 assists. While Bass as well played good for 17 points and 9 rebounds on the night.
Without their star players this team had little to rely on off the bench. Jason Terry needed to have a big game after getting into a verbal war with LeBron James following their last meeting. Unfortunately this was not the case as Terry struggled to contribute shooting just 3-9 for 6 points and going 0-3 from behind the arc. Recently we've heard Terry preach that he'll be ready come playoff time however currently nothing has supported his claims.
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 12: Rashard Lewis #9 of the Miami Heat shoots a layup against Shavlik Randolph #42 of the Boston Celtics on April 12, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
As expected LeBron led the Heat on the night finishing with 20 points on 8-10 shooting, added 6 rebounds and 9 assists to an impressive stat line. Dwayne Wade continues to struggle against the Celtics surely due to defensive pressure from Bradley and Lee. He finished the night going just 4-12 for 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. The Heat's biggest difference makers came from former Celtic Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
Allen scored 17 points on the night on 5-6 shooting and really the only shot he missed was a desperation heave to beat the shot clock at the end of the quarter. As Celtics fans know all to well, Allen was sure fire from the left three point corner and finished 3-4 behind the line. Rashard Lewis also provided a major contribution for the Heat scoring 19 points on 7-11 shooting and ended with a team high +19 plus-minus rating.
The Celtics will play again tomorrow night after a shot trip to Orlando, FL. The team should expect to get back both Pierce and Garnett for the game in a must win to stay ahead of the Bucks for the seventh seed. With only three games left in the season Doc will need to get the guys into a good rhythm going into the playoffs. I'd imagine Pierce and KG will sit out again in one of the other games in their next back to back. They also mentioned resting Terry in a few games as a general precaution and preparation for hopefully a long postseason.
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