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Last shots from the Celtics' Game 4 win

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  June 4, 2012 11:29 AM

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It's rained pretty much nonstop for three days straight in scenic Wells, Maine. Maybe I'm weird -- I know, no maybe necessary, right? -- but I don't mind at all. Mostly because it's good for sleeping. Sure didn't do the trick last night, though. That Celtics-Heat Game 4 was the kind of tense masterpiece that keeps you awake, replaying the highlights in your mind, especially after the jolt of adrenalin that come from Dwyane Wade's "What-a-fake-on-Daniels-looks-perfect-out-of-his-hand-it's-gonna-swish-the-C's-are-done-(#(@))@)-OH-MY-GOD-HE-MISSED" final shot in overtime. Even with the rain falling, I couldn't sleep for hours after that one. Bet Wade couldn't, either.

Here are a few brief, scattered thoughts that passed through my Spalding of a head while staring at the ceiling and mentally replaying the game ...

* * *

Chris Gasper hit me with the question on Boston Sports Live (you should be watching; it's fun) this afternoon, and I'll admit it caught me a bit off guard even though it's been a favorite recurring topic around here since roughly November: Would you trade Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul right now? I sputtered for a few seconds before essentially saying, "No, because I enjoy watching Rondo too much, good or bad.'' And you know what? That's the truth, the answer I'm glad I gave. Of course I understand why someone would want to trade Rondo for Paul, who is a better shooter than Rondo (on nights he doesn't score 44 points and transcend, anyway) and more conventionally brilliant in that Isiah Thomas sort of way. Had Danny Ainge somehow managed to acquire Paul from New Orleans for Rondo as the season was getting started, well, who could have a beef with that? But I like things how they are, not just with this esteemed team, but with the always-compelling point guard who is so expertly running it.

* * *

rondojamesfinn.jpgGame 4 felt like the first time in a long time that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were in close to their usual form in the same game. Neither shot a high percentage (Pierce was 8 for 18 en route to 23 points, while Allen scored 16 on 6-of-16 shooting), but that's at least in part to the quality of the defense being played on them. They both looked sharp -- Pierce is angling his way into the lane again and seems to have some lift back in his legs, and Allen found the beautiful arc on his jump shot. After Game 1, when I was one of the buffoons who wrote off this team after vowing never to do so until their demise was official, I was doubtful that we'd see them play at the level they did Monday night, particularly in unison. This is beyond encouraging.

* * *

The only difference between Mickael Pietrus and Tony Allen (the maddening Celtic version, not the relatively stable All-Defensive first-teamer with Memphis) is that one of them can tell you where the Eiffel Tower can be found. Pietrus has been exasperating for the most part during the postseason, shooting inconsistently and falling for jump shooters' pump-fakes time and again. (Imagine if he was on Wade on that last shot rather than Marquis Daniels. Wait. Don't.) But like the occasionally lamented TA, Pietrus showed a knack for making a big play out of nowhere Sunday night, corralling two of his five rebounds on the same Celtics possession in overtime. He's one of those players who leaves you shaking your head in both frustration and admiration.

* * *

One thing I've come to realize in this series: I like LeBron James better than Dwyane Wade, and it's not really close. I admire LeBron's relentless effort on defense -- is there any other player on this planet or any other who could guard Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett effectively? -- and I think he gets too much grief for his performance late in games. He had time to think on that 3-pointer with 37 seconds left last night, and still drilled it. On the shot at the end of regulation, Udonis Haslem might not have been the best option, but making the pass was the correct basketball decision. Hey, even Michael Jordan dished off to Steve Kerr and John Paxson in a couple crucial situations, didn't he? As for Wade: Amazing talent, killer instinct, and dirty as hell. Johnny Most would call him McFilthy and McNasty, with an occasional Little Lord Fauntleroy mixed in.

* * *

Is there a Celtics fan who is comfortable when the Green holds a double-digit lead? The Heat started less effectively than Lane Pryce's Jaguar last night, falling behind 21-6 out of the blocks, and yet you knew they'd make a game of it. Though both are factors, I'd say it's more the ability of two particular players on the Heat than any complacency on the Celtics part that all but ensures that the outcome will hang in the balance in the final minutes no matter how fast one team or the other starts. I don't believe in the silly notion that you only need to watch the final two minutes of an NBA game, because then you'd great stuff like this ...

... but I do believe that the normal ebbs and flows of two talented NBA teams eventually even out over the course of 48 minutes.

* * *

Man, this series is just too much fun. I don't want it to end. It has too go seven. Anything less is a disappointment. Heck, how about making it best of 11? Or maybe mixing in a few more ties?

@GlobeChadFinn

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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