BOSTON (CBSMiami.com) – After stinking up the court in Game 3; the Miami Heat return to the hardwood in Boston Monday to take on the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat played poorly throughout the second half of Game 3, even as the Celtics were led by a point guard with one arm. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo showed his toughness after dislocating his elbow early in the third quarter and then returning to help the Celtics stay alive in the series.
“He’s about as tough a guy as you’ll come across in this league,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I wasn’t even surprised that he came back. He’s that type of competitor. You don’t like to see anybody injured at this time of year, even your opponent. We want to beat Boston when they’re at their best and their healthiest.”
The big return of Shaquille O’Neal for the Celtics lasted all of 8 minutes and 29 seconds. After the game, Shaq had problems dealing will swelling in his injured right calf.
The Heat played flat throughout the game and head coach Erik Spoelstra has admitted that he’s debated if he should tinker with the starting lineup to keep the Heat from playing behind early in the game. Currently, the Heat’s starting five include Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Mike Bibby.
But it’s Bosh who has drawn the most criticism for his play in Game 3. Bosh said he let the moment get to him and was honest about how he struggled. So naturally, the very sports writers who criticize athletes for not being honest, now chastise him for being honest.
In Game 4, the Heat’s Big Three of Bosh, James, and Wade scored a combined 44 points. That’s the lowest number of points the trio has scored since they joined forces at the beginning of the season.
But, expect that to change as the Heat look to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series Monday night.
“We’ve got to be aggressive,” LeBron said. “They’re a very aggressive team. The only way you counter aggressiveness is to be aggressive on the other end too. We know we didn’t play as well as we wanted to – probably our worst game of the postseason.”
That last line is what should scare Boston and Chicago fans. The Heat played their worst game, possibly of the season, and the Celtics still had to rely on a second-half surge to pull away from them.
If the Heat can pull out a victory in Game 4, then the series will likely be over when it comes back to the AmericanAirlines Arena for Game 5.