As to the Celtics, their problems were several and significant. For one, they simply hit the wall with their inability to score down the stretch. From a high of 27 points they achieved in the first quarter, their scoring dropped off in each succeeding frame (to a low of 15 in the fourth period) and, after clinging to an 82-81 lead midway through the fourth quarter, allowed Miami to go on a 10-2 scoring run that they just couldn’t answer.
Secondly, Boston received exactly two points from their bench. Mickael Pietrus, whose heroics in Game 5 helped give the Celtics a series lead, simply disappeared. This particularly hurt Boston in the fourth period as their starting forward Paul Pierce went freezing cold with his shooting – managing only 7-of-18 from the field for the game. And even as all five starters managed to tally double figures, it just wasn’t enough as the team ran out of gas in the critical final minutes. In fact, the starters were pressed into unusually long service, each logging an average of just over 40 minutes on the floor. That’s particularly rough on veteran legs.
Tuesday’s matchup with Oklahoma City, by contrast, will feature powerful and youthful matchups – most notably between the Thunder’s three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and the Heat’s three-time MVP Lebron James. But the supporting cast for each squad is arguably as talented and deep, with speedy and quick-handed Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden seeing duty against the Heat’s Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers, as well as the Heat’s Bosh who will hit the post against Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka in what likely will be a shot-blocking extravaganza.