Celtics turn down Heat with Game 3 win, 101-91

781696.jpg

Celtics turn down Heat with Game 3 win, 101-91

BOSTON It wasn't an elimination game, but a loss on Friday would have put the Boston Celtics in the kind of playoff purgatory no team has ever emerged from.

No worries, folks.

The Celtics' offense was free-flowing once again, and the sometimes-stingy defense was unleashed for most of the night on a Miami Heat team that for a change, looked out of synch for most of the game.

Boston's strong play and Miami's struggles ended with the C's emerging with a much-needed 101-91 win.

The Celtics now trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with the Heat, with Game 4 in Boston on Sunday and Game 5 back in Miami on Tuesday.

Boston led by as many as 23 points in the fourth, before a flurry of 3's by Mike Miller cut the Celtics lead to 11 points, and a driving dunk by Dwyane Wade made it a single digit game with less than six minutes to play.

A dunk by Kevin Garnett put the Celtics back on top by double figures, but with more than five minutes to play, what seemed like a C's blowout was now all of a sudden a game once again.

But down the stretch, there was too much Kevin Garnett (24 points, 11 rebounds) and too much Rondo (21 points, 10 assists, six rebounds) for the Heat to handle as the C's improved their home record to 7-1 in the playoffs.

Boston's Game 3 win came on the heels of a Game 2 overtime loss that on many levels, the Celtics felt they should have won.

Regardless, this is now officially a series with the C's looking to do what only one Celtics team (the 1969 squad) in franchise history has ever done - come back and win a series after losing the first two games.

The C's have a ways to go before such talk can become realistic chatter.

For now, they are focused on looking to replicate the many good things they did in Friday's Game Three win.

Boston got an unexpected spark off the bench late in the first quarter when Doc Rivers called upon the seldom-used Marquis Daniels.

He only scored two points, but his activity on defense and all-around hustle seemed to be just the spark the Celtics were desperately needing.

And defensively, he was actually able to do something none of his teammates have done up to this point in the series - slow down LeBron James.

After making seven of his first nine shots, Daniels' defense was instrumental in James missing three of his next four shots.

That enabled the Celtics to go on a 15-0 run with their lead peaking at nine on multiple occasions in the first half.

Maybe the most telling sign of Daniels' impact was when he wasn't on the floor. Daniels was replaced by Paul Pierce at the 6:08 mark.

Eleven seconds later, James scored on a driving lay-up.

It would be one of the few easy baskets for James, who had a respectable 20 points in the first half and yet, clearly he wasn't the biggest difference-maker in the game. He led all players with 34 points.

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

The Celtics didn’t know when they traded a late first-round pick and Marcus Thornton for Isaiah Thomas that they were getting their next star player, but that 2015 trade deadline move has proven to be a pleasant surprise. 

Appearing on Felger and Mazz Friday, Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said that he sees Thomas, who will be a free agent after next season, in the team’s longterm plans. 

“Every one of these seasons is different. It’s like a movie and you have a cast of characters and the cast changes a little bit every season,” Grousbeck said. “We’d love to have Isaiah here for a long, long time. He’s a phenomenal player and he loves being here.” 

The Celtics stand a strong chance of picking first overall in June’s draft since they own Brooklyn’s first-round pick. Asked whether Thomas’ status would prevent the team from taking a point guard (which the draft’s two prospects play), Grousbeck said the team doesn’t need to decide that now, but suggested it wouldn’t.

“Especially if it’s a very high pick in the draft, you’ve got to draft the best player,” Grousbeck said. “You probably wouldn’t draft for fit as much as just you see if there’s a transformational player that you can have for 10 or 15 years there. If you see a guy like that, you’ve got to make everything else work, I would think.” 

Grousbeck: C's two stars away, so giving up everything for one 'didn't make sense'

Grousbeck: C's two stars away, so giving up everything for one 'didn't make sense'

Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Felger and Mazz Friday, defending Danny Ainge’s inactively at Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Grousbeck’s thinking was that the team is two major pieces away from being a  championship-caliber club, and that giving up assets without filling those spots completely might have been harmful.

“I think it takes some strength and courage not to do anything when everybody’s howling to do something,” Grousbeck said. 

The Celtics were rumored to have had talks with the Bulls about Jimmy Butler and the Pacers about Paul George. Neither player ended up being traded. 

“We’re very comfortable with what happened,” Grousbeck said. “We offered a lot for a couple of guys, and we offered all that we were going to offer and it just wasn’t going to happen. Those guys weren’t going to be traded and they weren’t. It’s not problem. 

“We figure we’re probably two guys away from being a really, really good team; probably two significant guys away, and if we put all the chips in yesterday on one guy, we’re getting rid of draft pick -- or picks -- and we’re getting rid of free agency this summer, so it’s sort of like one step forward, two steps back. It just didn’t make sense.”