Celtics Take Game Three in Eastern Conference Finals

Marquis Daniels played a huge role coming off the bench Friday night.

Marquis Daniels played a huge role coming off the bench Friday night.

Jake Moser

Marquis Daniels played a huge role coming off the bench Friday night.

Kevin Garnett dominated down low with 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Boston Celtics cruised in the second half to a 101-91 win over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the win, Boston now trails Miami 2-1 in the best-of-seven-series. LeBron James had 34 points to help keep the Heat in the game, but the Celtics dominated Miami for the majority of the final three quarters on both offense and defense. Balanced scoring from Garnett, Rajon Rondo, (21 points, 10 assists) and Paul Pierce (23 points) aided the Celtics’ interior attack that allowed the home team to build a 24-point lead in the third quarter and never look back. Dwyane Wade added 18 points for Miami, helping them close the deficit to eight points in the fourth quarter but it was too little too late for the Heat.

After averaging just 32 points in the paint over the first two games, the Celtics attacked the basket repeatedly in Game 3, scoring 58 points inside against a sub-par defensive effort by the Heat.

If there was a single turning point in Friday’s matchup, it was after a hard foul by Udonis Haslem on Garnett with 8:57 remaining in the second quarter, the Celts’ emotional leader did eight pushups before pulling himself up off the parquet floor. The TD Garden crowd roared for the display and the Celtics bottled that energy for the rest of the quarter, outscoring Miami 23-14 over that stretch to build a double-digit lead they did not give up.  A pleasant surprise, after playing sparingly over the first two games of the series, Marquis Daniels was given his first opportunity at extended minutes by Rivers. The small forward made the most of his opportunity, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds in just 16 minutes of action. Daniels finished the game with a plus/minus of +16.

In other news, Chris Bosh sat out his eighth straight game with an abdominal strain. He remains out indefinitely.  On the Celtic side, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green both watched the game next to Boston’s bench. Bradley is out for the playoffs after undergoing shoulder surgery last week.

Up next, game four is on Sunday June 3rd in Boston at 8:30 p.m. Boston has won 19 of their past 21 home games, so look for them to hold serve on home court and return to game five in Miami with the series tied up at two.