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

Celtics run out of gas, fall to Heat in Game 7
June 10, 2012, 3:28 am
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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.