Heat escape Boston with a 105-103 win; streak hits 23 despite career game from Jeff Green

Ugh. The Celtics, without Kevin Garnett (and Rondo, and Sullinger, and Barbosa..) had the Heat right where they wanted them. They were up 17 in the first half, and 13 with 8:27 to go in the 4th. But they couldn't close the door. Lebron James was too good, scoring 37 points to go with 12 assists and 7 boards for Miami. The Celtics were led by Jeff Green's career high 43 points; as well as 17/8/8 from Paul Pierce. But it wasn't enough. Miami won their 23rd straight game; 105-103, and now have the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history. Feel free to read ahead, but please - put away all sharp objects.

Green started for KG and dominated the first 16 minutes of the game, much like the oversized "12" year old that dominates the Little League World Series every year. You know the one that's a foot taller than the rest of the kids, and has a mustache. That was Green. After the Heat went up 19-14, Green spearheaded a 27-5 run by the C's with a plethora of acrobatic finishes at the rim, and 3-4 shooting from three. When the dust settled, Boston led 41-24, and Green had 22 points.

When Green went to the bench Miami was able to cut into the lead a bit, a run that included Lebron James dunking Jason Terry into oblivion. Terry was called for a personal foul, while James was called for a technical. The 2nd quarter also saw Avery Bradley's highlight reel block on a breakaway Norris Cole lay-up attempt. The block led to a transition three by Pierce, and nearly tore the roof off the garden. Miami was able to cut the deficit to six at the half, in part due to the ticky tack foul brigade. The Celtics were called for 15 fouls in the first half to just 8 for Miami, and the Heat took advantage.

Fouls and sloppy turnovers kept Miami in this one despite Green's best efforts to try and single handedly run away with the game. Green scored nine 3rd quarter points, ended the session with a career high 38. The 38 points matched the number that Lebron (24) and Wade (14) had combined as the game entered the 4th quarter.

Boston took a four point lead into the fourth before yet another Green burst pushed the lead to 10 with James on the bench. Green was everything tonight, beating every defender Miami threw at him to the hoop whenever he wanted, and burying jump shots when left open.

Miami would not let the Celtics go easily, going on an 18-4 run and reclaiming the lead on a Mario Chalmers three with 2 minutes to go. An Avery Bradley three and a Lebron put back left the game tied with just 43 seconds to go. The Celtics had two possessions, the Heat one, but one was enough for Lebron. Following a miss by Green, James hit an 18 footer with 10 seconds remaining to put Miami up 2. The Celtics had two chances on their last possession, but Green was blocked by Shane Battier, and then Pierce missed a potential game winning three with 3 seconds on the clock.

It was a punch in the gut for sure, and a wasted opportunity. With that said, no one watching this game should think the Celtics bowing out to the Heat is a foregone conclusion when the two meet in the playoffs (yes when, not if). Miami is awesome, and Lebron is even better than awesome, but the Celtics match up really well with them. The Heat are King, and the favorites, but add Garnett to the mix come May, and the C's have a shot.

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