LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Destroy Celtics Down the Stretch to Help Heat Take 2-0 Series Lead

IAMI -- With seven minutes left in the Celtics' Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Miami Heat, they had a clean slate and a chance to steal a difficult road win from the South Beach behemoth.
It was 80-80. After all the minor injuries, all the scoreless stretches and all the explosions of athleticism and scoring from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, it was even-steven. All the Celtics needed was one last push to pull off a comeback win, tie the series 1-1, and head home with a chance to pull away.

Instead, they watched the Heat go off for a 14-0 run, and they're headed back to Boston with their tail between their legs, down 2-0.

"They scored and we couldn't score," Doc Rivers said. "Honestly, let's just simplify it.

"I always say that if we can't score down the stretch, that's always on me. I've got to do something different. I've got to go to Paul [Pierce] more. I've got to get Ray [Allen] more shots. But I've got to tell you, for me today was tough, because I didn't know who the hell was healthy."

That's pretty much where the Celtics stand right now -- aside from being defeated twice in Miami on the scoreboard, they're also looking defeated physically. Rajon Rondo battled back pain on Tuesday night, Pierce left early with a strained foot, and Allen revealed postgame that he needed medical attention Tuesday night after taking a hard elbow from James and feeling short of breath. Not to mention a certain 39-year-old Hall of Fame-bound big man.

The C's had been through a lot in 41 minutes on Tuesday night. They just didn't have enough left in the tank for the final seven.

Between the 7:09 and 3:19 marks in the fourth quarter, the Celtics went without a single point. They tried to get the ball inside, but at a certain point it just wasn't happening for them. They started settling for jumpers, they kept missing, and the discouragement just kept building.

Meanwhile, LeBron and Wade were slicing and dicing the Celtics' defense, cruising late to a 102-91 win. This much has been proven -- if the game is reduced to a battle of individual scorers, then you might as well anoint the Heat now.

"We're not winning that way," Rivers said. "I told you that before the series started. We're not a one-on-one basketball team. I think Paul may be the only one, really, that can beat guys on his own. But they're going to send help, usually with Rondo's guy, making it difficult for him to do that. That's just not who we are."

The Celtics' 2-0 deficit is no fluke. Through two games, they've been the far inferior team. They went into enemy territory and got outplayed by two fantastic players thriving in front of their home crowd. Wade had 38 points in Game 1, James had 35 in Game 2. They haven't just been hot, right now, they're just better.

The C's have never been down 2-0 in the Big Three era. The last time Boston trailed a postseason series after two games, it was the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2004, against the Pacers. Back before Jermaine O'Neal was a Celtic, James Jones was on the Heat and Reggie Miller was on TNT, they teamed up to sweep Boston in the playoffs.

For this group? This is a totally new situation. And it's one that they'll have to stew in for the next three days.

"I've learned over the course of my life and my career that the adversity that we face is ultimately what makes us who we are," Allen said. "That's why we're all here. Being down 2-0 doesn't scare any of us. It doesn't make us nervous. It's just an opportunity to come out and shine. We have an opportunity to go home and play in front of our crowd and put some good basketball out there."

The layoff -- Game 3 isn't until 8 p.m. Saturday -- couldn't possibly come at a better time. The Celtics need a few days to erase the effects of these first two games, both physically and mentally, and as luck would have it those days are on the schedule.

The Celtics are down. Soon, they might be out. But they have some time to refresh themselves and refocus for what's ahead.

"The rest is good," Rivers said. "It's very good for us, because we are a little banged up. Tomorrow I told them to go golfing, go do whatever they want to do. Stay away from each other, stay away from film, and just stay away from basketball. Just relax. Then we'll get right back at it on the next day and build up until Game 3. Game 3 will be in Boston, and we like being in Bosto
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Destroy Celtics Down the Stretch to Help Heat Take 2-0 Series Lead LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Destroy Celtics Down the Stretch to Help Heat Take 2-0 Series Lead Reviewed by Sopheap Chhin on 8:05:00 AM Rating: 5

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