Celtics run out of gas, fall to Heat in Game 7

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Celtics run out of gas, fall to Heat in Game 7

MIAMI Balanced scoring. Solid defense. An unexpected role player stepping up to the challenge, the moment that is a Game 7 on the road.

For long stretches, the Boston Celtics were playing their kind of game.

And then ... it all fell apart as the Celtics suffered a fourth quarter slump at the absolute worst time, and it ultimately would prove to be their undoing as the Miami Heat pulled away for a 101-88 win.

Trailing 82-81 after a Ray Allen 3-pointer, Miami closed the game with a 20-6 run and never looked back as the C's failed repeatedly to make the necessary shot or get the defensive stop they needed.

Miami moves on to the NBA Finals for the second straight season and will face the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder with Games 1 and 2 in Oklahoma City Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Celtics' dream season came to a crashing end and with it, the growing prospect that Saturday night's loss would be the last game played together by the C's Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

As Garnett checked out of the game with 28.3 seconds to play, Garnett went down the bench giving a hug and embrace to all his teammates and coaches.

Following the game, there was the usual man-hugs and embraces among the players for both teams, with the C's wishing the Heat luck and the Miami players giving the Celtics props for a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire series.

As much as LeBron James (31 points, 12 rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (23 points) were praised for their play, it was the play of Chris Bosh (19 points) that proved to be the difference-maker in Game 7.

His ability to knock down 3-pointers and help better space the floor for Miami was too much for the C's to handle.

Although Rajon Rondo (22 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds) had another big-game performance offensively, there were just too many times in which he and the rest of the Celtics' perimeter defenders were broken down defensively which forced the C's interior players to provide help defense.

That left Bosh as well as Shane Battier (12 points, 4-for-9 on 3s) open far too often if the C's were to have a shot at winning a game of this magnitude.

Boston led most of the first half, with Miami taking its first lead of the third quarter on a jumper by Dwyane Wade that gave the Heat a 63-62 lead.

The two went back and fourth the rest of the third quarter which ended with a 73-all tie.

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

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Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

WALTHAM -- You won’t find the Boston Celtics blaming anyone but themselves for Saturday’s 127-123 overtime loss to Portland. 
 
But they certainly didn’t get any breaks down the stretch from the referees, who made a huge officiating mistake in the final seconds of regulation. 
 
Following a Celtics miss in the game’s closing seconds, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wound up with the ball but was stripped almost immediately by Marcus Smart, who put the steal back in for a lay-up that would have given Boston a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds to play. 
 
The ruling on the floor at the time was a foul against Smart. But officials later determined as part of their report on the final two minutes of the game, that the foul against Smart was an incorrect call.
 
“It just pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Crowder said. “It just pisses you off. I don’t like it.”
 
Crowder, like a number of players I have spoken to about this particular subject, is not a fan of the league releasing the information. 
 
And his reasoning, like his NBA brethren, is simple. 
 
There’s no recourse relative to that particular game if the officials in fact got a call wrong. 
 
So for their purposes, the transparency that the league is seeking, while just, doesn’t do them a damn bit of good when it comes to what matters most to them. Which is wins and losses. 
 
“It’s over now. It’s too late to confirm it now,” said Smart who told media following the loss that the steal was clean. “The game is over with. It is what it is; on to the next game now.”
 
Smart added that having the league confirm the call was wrong is frustrating. 
 
“They come back and tell you they miss the call, but it’s over now,” Smart said. “We’re on to the next game. It’s like they shouldn’t even said it. But I understand it; they’re trying to take responsibility and show they made a bad call. We appreciate it but at that time as a player it’s frustrating. That possibly could have won us the game.”
 
But as Smart, coach Brad Stevens and other players asked about it mentioned, Boston made so many mistakes against the Blazers and played so uncharacteristically for long stretches that it would be unfair and just not right to pin the game’s outcome on one bad call late in the game. 
 
“It happens,” said Stevens who added that he’s never read a two-minute report other than what he has seen published by the media. “There were plenty of things we could have done better.”
 
He’s right.
 
That blown call didn’t cost the Boston Celtics the game. 
 
Their play did. 
 
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times that led to 34 points, both season highs. 
 
They couldn’t contain C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, two of the league’s most explosive guards who combined for 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting.
 
Boston allowed Myers Leonard to score a season-high 17 points. 
 
Certainly the bad call against Smart was a factor. 
 
But it would not have been an issue if the Celtics had done a better job of controlling the things they could have controlled, like defending shooters better, making smarter decisions when it came to passing the ball and maybe most significant, play with a higher, more consistent level of aggression around the rim. 

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.