It couldn’t have happened any other way.
The possible final matchup of the Miami Heat and the KG-Paul Pierce-era Boston Celtics had to come down to the wire, it had to be in Boston, and it had to be low-scoring.
We wouldn’t have it any other way, with the exception of a few things.
The result could’ve been a lot better; a 100-98 double-overtime loss isn’t exactly what Heat fans wanted out of this outing.
The Heat’s offensive execution was another thing we wish would’ve been different, and a factor in Miami’s loss. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade played the entire contest as if both of them would break out into hives if they stepped into the paint. Some might point to excellent Boston defense as the reason for these problems, but despite the presence of Kevin Garnett, this isn’t the same Celtics defense we’ve become accustomed to in the last five years.
We also could’ve done without the struggles from the role-players and bench on the Heat. Mario Chalmers was bad Mario this afternoon, missing just about anything he threw up. His four personal fouls didn’t help much either, and is especially distressing considering that Rajon Rondo wasn’t playing.
That’s going to be the prevailing storyline from this game; Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports). Even during a third quarter where the Celtics seemed to match the Heat shot-for-shot, stop-for-stop, the usually loud TD Garden was quiet, like they were attending a wake.
In many ways it was, not just the end of the Celtics’ season, but the end of an era. The first nail in this era’s coffin came with LeBron’s magnificent 45-15-5 effort in Game 6 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, followed by the Heat’s Game 7 victory in the same series.
What followed was the Ray Allen signing, and the Rondo injury proverbially slams the door on the Boston Big 3-era.
But we knew they wouldn’t leave without a fight, and that’s exactly what they gave the Heat on Sunday. It wasn’t a picture of offensive mastery on either side with both teams shooting 40 percent.
The Heat’s main problem was turnovers, which is why the game went into overtime, why it took a clutch game-tying three from LeBron to even get them into the extra period. Miami wound end with 20 in the game and five in the fourth quarter, while only forcing Boston to turn the ball over 14 times.
Halfway through the first overtime, it looked like LeBron would take over as he’s wont to do this season, however the Celtics managed to storm their way back. Wade’s terrible play in overtime wound up being a major factor, as he would score for the final time halfway through the fourth quarter.
You will hear a lot of talk about Boston’s resiliency, and much of it is deserved. This game was proof of that as they forced the Heat to play their game, then succeeded at the end.
In a seven-game series, the Heat will beat any and all-comers in the East. But today was the day to put the final boot on the neck of the KG-Pierce-era Celtics, and end what they started in Game 6 of last year’s ECF.
Instead it gave Boston their final breath before the likely inevitable rebuilding process that Danny Ainge will likely begin sometime between now and the All-Star break.
It was a fun rivalry while it lasted, and I give props to the Celtics for taking the final battle.
But in the end, the Heat would wind up winning the war. Two Eastern Conference Championships and the 2012 NBA Title have a way of deciding things like this.
Thomas Galicia is a co-editor of AllUCanHeat.com and an NFL Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report.