A week ago, the Boston Celtics were too old.
Three games later, they’re one win away from the NBA finals.
And Miami - the team that was constructed with hopes of supplanting Boston as the power in the Eastern Conference - is suddenly in big trouble.
Kevin Garnett finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 19 - including a huge 3-pointer over LeBron James’ outstretched arm with 52.9 seconds left - and the Celtics beat the Heat 94-90 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in the East finals that now shift to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday night.
”We’ve done nothing,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ”We’re playing a heck of a basketball team. So just because we’re going to Boston, I told them, we have to play. They’re not going to give it to us. We have to go get it.”
James finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, though he went 8 minutes without scoring in the final quarter. Dwyane Wade scored 27 for the Heat, who got no more than nine from anyone else.
”We wouldn’t want to be in this situation but we never get too high or too low in a series,” James said. ”We had an opportunity to come home and take a lead, but we didn’t. So we have to go up to Boston and win a game.”
– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press
But these Celtics at this moment have been valiant and worthy Heat adversaries.
They didn’t play particularly well in Game 5, but nevertheless won. Boston didn’t get a lead until the final minute of the third quarter, which ended with the Celtics holding a 65-60 lead on the strength of a 15-1 closing run. That advantage evaporated quickly enough, but Boston carved its way back.
“We just hung around enough to get to the fourth quarter,” said Rivers.
Boston’s poor shooting – Pierce, Allen and Rondo were a combined 11-of-43 – didn’t matter in the end, mostly because Garnett was so good.
“He’s our life,” Rivers said. “We’re a close-knit team. We have a lot of positive talk in our locker room.”
– Reported by Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post
Paul Pierce hit arguably the biggest shot of the game Tuesday night, a 3-pointer over LeBron James that gave the Celtics a 90-86 lead with 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Game 5. But Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t totally thrilled with the shot selection.
“I kind of wanted him to drive, honestly,” said Rivers. “I’ve been around Paul long enough. Right when he gets into the footwork, you knew he was going to shoot it. At least I did, because I’ve seen him enough.
“I didn’t know if I wanted that shot. Honestly, I thought he was going to drive it, but he made it. That’s what players like Paul do. It really is. He’s a big shot-maker. He always has been.”
– Reported by Gary Dzen of Boston.com