The Celtics – Heat matchup last night would have been must see TV a year ago. But after Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett headed south to Brooklyn, the rivalry between the two teams dissapated with the C’s title chances. Except, last night, the Celtics surprised everyone, and Jeff Green was the difference at the end.
Green started his Saturday night fever in the first quarter, with an explosive move past LeBron James on the mini-transition before flushing it over a helpless Shane Battier.
Green also drove for a running lefty half-dunk in the fourth quarter that drew the foul. Basically, he was all over the court, scoring 24 points on 5-for-8 shooting from behind the three-point arc plus the aforementioned highlights at the rim. But Green would save his best play of all for the game’s final second (that’s a singular second, in case it wasn’t clear).
With three seconds left, James knocked down a pair of free throws to increase the Heat’s lead to four. Gerald Wallace came back with a quick lay-up to cut the Heat’s lead back to two. Then Dwyane Wade had to go and miss a pair of free throws, the second of which was an intentional miss; except, Wade didn’t even hit the rim, which gave the Celtics the ball near halfcourt with 0.6 seconds remaining.
Gerald Wallace took the ball out at half-court, and lofted a perfect pass into the far corner away from the player’s benches. The ball dropped over the outstretched arms of Chris Bosh and the recovering LeBron James. Green caught it and went up as the buzzer sounded.
He got it off in time — as replay and the eye test proved later — and the Heat suffered the ignominy of a Celtics loss when they’re considered on of the Eastern Conference’s worst. But this time, instead of Paul Pierce or Garnett leading the Shamrocks, it was former Hoya Jeff Green who did the most damage.
LeBron James finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double in a hyper-efficient performance, shooting 9-for-13 from the field for 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. The Heat shot 57 percent from the field as a team with Bosh and Wade both over 50 percent, and only turned the ball over 10 times. But Boston was almost as good, only turning it over 12 times, and Avery Bradley was 4-for-4 in the fourth as they made their way to that final tick of the game clock.
No matter the talent level, on any given night in the NBA, any team can vanquish another. Boston, which came into the game having lost four of their first six under rookie head coach Brad Stevens, is still an NBA team, even if their stars are gone or injured.
Despite Brooklyn’s close loss to still-undefeated Indiana last night, somewhere in the bustling streets of Manhattan, Paul Pierce is grinning from ear-to-ear. The Celtics beat the HEat.
What do you think of Green’s big night?
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