MIAMI — When the Miami Heat lose a close game, we usually harp on their offensive play-calling and execution. But the Heat scored 30 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 on Tuesday. And the final moments of their 94-90 loss were really about the other end of the floor.
The Heat led 78-72 with just over six minutes to go, and then the Boston Celtics proceeded to score 22 points on their final 12 possessions of the game to come away with a 94-90 victory.
The key sequence was a four-possession stretch where the Celtics scored 11 points to turn a one-point deficit into a four-point lead with less than a minute to go. The Heat never got a chance to tie the game after that, and they can really blame themselves for three of the 11 points.
After the run started with a Kevin Garnett jumper, Mario Chalmers picked up a technical foul for pushing Mickael Pietrus to the floor. That gave Boston a free point in a crucial spot.
A couple of possessions later, Dwyane Wade tied the game at 85 with a pretty incredible drive to the basket. But five seconds after that, Paul Pierce was going to the free throw line, because the Heat failed to get back in transition and Shane Battier violated one of basketball’s fundamental rules: Never leave the man with the ball.
The Heat were scrambling a little, but Battier was in front of Pierce as he received a cross-court pass from Rajon Rondo around the midcourt line. But as Pierce approached the 3-point line from the right side of the floor, Battier took a step toward Pietrus in the corner. That was all Pierce needed to get a free lane to the basket, where Udonis Haslem had no choice but to foul him.
It was the kind of play that the Heat burned the Celtics on a few times in Game 3. But it was one of several occasions in this series that the Heat did a terrible job of getting back in transition. There was definitely some truth in Rondo’s remarks to ESPN at halftime of Game 4.
There were other reasons the Heat lost on Tuesday. The Celtics scored 94 points in the game and 29 in the fourth quarter. But the Heat certainly didn’t make them earn all 29. And that’s one of the reasons they’re down 3-2.