Their defense was not up to par
The number that stuck out to many of the Heat players was 50. That was the percentage that the Celtics shot in Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden, far too high for Miami’s taste. That, and the 58 points the Celtics scored in the paint.
“I don’t think it was necessarily low energy,’’ Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. “I think we came out with a lot of energy . . . I think we just didn’t have overall defense focusing that we needed. They shot about 50 percent tonight, which is too high. That’s what we’ve really got to focus on, is getting stops.’’
The Heat didn’t get nearly enough of those, especially in the second and third quarters, with the Celtics outscoring them by 11 in the second, and by 9 in the third.
“Every game we’ve been outrebounded in the playoffs we’ve lost, so if there’s one stat that’s important for us it’s rebounds,’’ Shane Battier said. “Rebounds equal rings.’’
Instead, the Heat were outrebounded by the Celtics, a team that doesn’t generally hit the boards hard. Miami had 32 rebounds to the Celtics’ 44, with Boston getting 12 offensive boards.
“Rebounding is usually effort, but tonight I wouldn’t say we gave a lack of effort,’’ Haslem said. “They shot a high percentage, which equals less rebounds for us. We shot a lower percentage, which equals more rebounds for them.’’
Though the teams ended up with nearly the same field-goal percentage, the Celtics were shooting 53.4 through the third quarter, with the Heat at 45.6. Miami shot 49.4 for the game.
“We just couldn’t get a stop in the third quarter, then we started the fourth fighting back,’’ Battier said. “Then, as the old Vince Lombardi quote says, we didn’t lose, we just ran out of time.’’
Shrinking free throws
After shooting 47 free throws against the Celtics in Game 2, the Heat went to the line only 20 times in Game 3, making just 10. Dwyane Wade never even took a foul shot in the game, and LeBron James - who shot 24 free throws on Wednesday - made just 1 of 5 attempts on Friday.
“We’ll be more aggressive and we’ll find ways to get to the rim and to the free throw line next game,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James rises to occasion
James scored 34 points against the Celtics to lead the Heat. He added eight rebounds and five assists. “LeBron was very aggressive,’’ Wade said. “Our offensive rhythm wasn’t necessarily there as much. We didn’t make as many shots as we wanted to. But he kept us afloat.
“That’s the thing with our team. Certain games LeBron is going to do it, certain games I’m going to, other games Mario Chalmers is going to do it. Keep us afloat and keep it enough to where we can make a push. Give us an opportunity to come back, and that’s what we did.’’
Injured Chris Bosh had a new role on Friday, playing the part of Kevin Garnett in the Heat’s walkthrough. “If I was to compare them, Kevin Garnett has an incredible motor,’’ Spoelstra said. The coach added that Bosh was able to do some shooting in a “very light’’ workout.