Heat overcome career-high 44 from Rondo, beat Celtics in OT, 115-111


Heat overcome career-high 44 from Rondo, beat Celtics in OT, 115-111

MIAMI For one half, the Boston Celtics had the Miami Heat right where they wanted them.

Dwyane Wade couldn't make a shot. Somebody other than LeBron James was leading the Heat in scoring.

And Rajon Rondo was the best player on the floor, hands down.

He was that player for most of the night.

But Rondo's best wasn't good enough on this night as the Heat squeaked out a 115-111 overtime win.

As was the case in Game One, this game also had its share of question officiating that went against the Celtics.

Trailing 107-105, Rajon Rondo drove into the lane and missed a lay-up where replays showed he was fouled by Dwyane Wade.

No call was made.

From there, the Celtics were never the same team despite Rondo's incredible 44-point, 10 assist, eight-rebound night.

Boston returns home trailing 2-0 in the series with Games 3 and 4 at the TD Garden on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

In a game that featured a few twists and turns, the game's momentum took a major swing in Miami's favor following a blocked shot by Wade on a driving lay-up attempt by Ray Allen.

Boston was leading 71-66 at the time of Allen's miss.

Miami responded to Wade's block with a 12-0 run to take the lead and spent the rest of the quarter playing catch up as it ended with the Heat ahead, 81-75.

But the Celtics had their own momentum-swinging moment in the fourth quarter.

After Kevin Garnett was fouled by James Jones, Garnett was whistled for a technical foul on the play.

Boston then reeled off nine straight to regain the lead, 88-85, but couldn't come up with the big shot or big stops in the game's final minutes to steal away home court.

For the C's, it was a disappointing finish to a game that began with such promise, as a lay-up by Rondo gave the C's their first lead of the series, 4-2.

But it wasn't his usual darting-to-the-basket lay-up; instead, it was a jumper.

It would serve as a warning shot from the 6-1 point guard for what he was planning to continue firing up in the first half.

Rondo's jumper, far and away the weakest part of his game, was suddenly a source of strength for him and the Celtics in the first half.

Indeed, it was Rondo splashing a jumper in the middle of the lane, from the wing and of course, a dash of dashing to the basket for a lay-up or two was of course in order.

At half, Rondo was well on his way to a triple-double with 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Consider this.

Rondo had more points at the half than LeBron James (13 points) and Dwyane Wade (two points) combined.

Despite his one-man dominance, the Celtics only led 53-46 at half against a Heat team that shot less than 37 percent from the field.

For Miami, it was the 3-ball that kept them afloat in the first half with Mario Chalmers leading the way.

Chalmers, who has averaged 11.1 points in the playoffs this year, had 14 at the half which included him connecting on 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

Miami continued to keep within arm's reach of the C's courtesy of the 3-ball in the third quarter, as James connected on a pair that cut into Boston's single digit lead.

Meanwhile, the C's countered with a steady dose of attacking the lane and getting to the free throw line. At the half, Boston had 19 free throw attempts compared to just 14 for the Heat.

Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener


Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener

BOSTON – Marcus Smart’s sprained left ankle injury continues to heal, but the Celtics remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to his availability for the season opener on Wednesday against Brooklyn.
Smart sprained the ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holliday.
He was helped off the floor by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas along with head trainer Ed Lacerte.
Since the injury, the Celtics have been pleased with the healing progress of the ankle, the same ankle he sprained as a rookie which kept him out for several weeks.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart is no longer in a walking boot and continues to be day-to-day as he receives a steady diet of treatments to help speed up the healing process.
Smart will undergo a series of tests to determine the ankle’s strength, prior to getting any kind of clearance to play.
That’s why Stevens isn’t worried about Smart returning to the floor too soon.
“I trust our staff. Our staff and Marcus will make that decision well,” Stevens said. “Then I play guys, if they are available.”
Smart has established himself as one of the Celtics’ top reserves, with the ability to play both guard positions and some small forward depending on the lineup on the floor. The Celtics have to prepare for the possibility that he will not be able to play in the opener (or the first few games considering Boston opens with three games in four nights.

His absence would create more playing time for Terry Rozier in addition to likely resulting in extended minutes for starters such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
As eager as Smart is to get back on the floor, he and the Celtics are mindful of the big picture.
This team wants to make a deep playoff run and they’ll everyone – Smart included – to do so.
That’s why as much as Smart wants to get on the floor immediately, he has to remember – or be reminded of – that this is an 82-game season and his long-term value to this team and its goals can’t be taken for granted.

Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice


Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice

BOSTON - The Celtics got a bit of good news on the injury front with Kelly Olynyk being cleared for full contact.
The 7-foot center participated in most of the Celtics’ drills on Saturday, some of which included contact.
Olynyk said he had been doing some contact work prior to practice Saturday, but in a more controlled setting.
“I’m just trying to ramp it up a little bit more, every day,” Olynyk said. “Just trying to take a step in the right direction every day.”
Olynyk had surgery on his right shoulder in May with him expected to be out for at least five months.
Danny Ainge, C's president of basketball operations, recently said that he anticipated Olynyk returning sometime in the middle of November.
That would put his return about six months out from the time of surgery.

“He did a lot more than he has done,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ll see how he feels and progress at the appropriate rate after that.”
One of the strengths that Olynyk brought to the floor when he played was the ability to help space the floor because of his 3-point shooting.
Olynyk was not just a good 3-point shooter for a center, but one of the better 3-point shooters in the NBA last season when he connected on 40.5 percent of his 3s last season.  And it’s clear that last season was not a fluke, evident by him shooting 37.3 percent on 3s for his career.
However, the addition of Al Horford not only solidified the Celtics’ interior defense but also provides them with another stretch center.
Horford, who spent the past nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, shot 34 percent on 3s last season which at the very least, makes him a player that defenses have to respect when he’s outside of the 3-point line.