What started to look like a blowout, certainly didn’t end that way. Last night, the Boston Celtics were able to outlast a last gasp Miami Heat push in overtime as they evened up the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2.
The Celtics game out of the gates guns blazing. At many point during the 1st half, Boston held an 18-point lead over Miami. However, they were never able to break the 20-point barrier, and that was able to keep the Heat in the game. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Keyon Dooling were able to help the Celtics jump out to such a big lead thanks to 6 of 8 shooting from 3-point land.
Coming into the series against Boston, the Heat had allowed zero quarters giving up 30+ points. They allowed their first 30-point quarter earlier in the series, and last night Boston pumped out 34 points in the 1st quarter. That had the Garden crowd rocking and crushed Miami’s spirit right off the bat. The C’s outscored the Heat by another 3 points in the 2nd quarter to take a 61-47 lead at the half.
And then Rajon Rondo added fuel to the fire…
Doris Burke interviewed Rondo on ESPN going into the locker room at half time and asked him a relatively simple question: “What hole are you guys exploiting in this defense?”
Rondo’s answer? “Them complaining and crying to the referees in transition.”
BOOM! The Heat must have gotten word of Rondo’s shot because they came out ready to chip away at the lead in the 2nd half. The Celtics offense was anemic in both the 3rd and 4th quarters, while Miami slowly worked their way back into it. The major difference for Boston was their 3-point shooting. After a 6 for 8 showing in the 1st half, the Celtics shot a paltry 3 for 19 from deep in the 2nd half. That is not championship winning shooting.
As the game wound down though, the Heat made it a one possession game and eventually took a 2-point lead. However, the grit and balls of the Celtics allowed them to tie it back up every time the Heat looked to extend their lead. With the game winding down, the Celtics took an 89-86 lead.
Then the unthinkable happened…
LeBron James hit a clutch shot. With under one minute remaining in the 4th quarter, Miami brought the ball up and found James with nobody within 10 feet of him out at the 3-point line. The NBA MVP, who has always had his clutchness questioned over his entire career, gathered himself and calmly hit a game-tying three with 37.5 seconds remaining. All tied up, 89-89.
The Celtics looked to take the lead and win the game, but Kevin Garnett and LeBron James got tangled up under the hoop, and KG was called for an offensive foul that gave the Heat the ball back with 21 seconds left. Erik Spoelstra drew up a play that most would expect to be in Dwyane Wade’s hands, but DWade quickly dished the ball to LeBron. The defense triple-teamed LBJ who then had to dish the ball out to the left corner to Udonis Haslem. The power forward had to loft up a fade away at the buzzer, but fell short. Overtime.
In a game riddled with questionable foul calls against both teams, the overtime period was no different. Just 38 seconds into OT, Paul Pierce was called for his 6th foul as he fought for space with Shane Battier. Then, shortly after, Mickael Pietrus drew an offensive foul against LeBron, also fouling him out of the game.
Rondo took the game in his hands, and gave the Celtics a 92-21 lead with 2:34 left in overtime. Neither team would score again until Boston added a free throw to take a 93-91 lead. Miami would have one last chance to win or tie the game. Anybody who didn’t expect Dwyane Wade to get the ball for the final shot is crazy. Marquis Daniels was on Wade as the second ticked off the clock. Wade gave a little shot fake to Daniels who bit on it, which gave DWade a relatively open look at a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Luckily for the Celtics faithful, the shot rimmed out. The Celtics survived and tied up the series at 2-2!
The win guarantees the Celtics at least one more game in Boston this season, a pivotal Game 6. But for now, the Celtics head to Miami to play Game 5 against the Heat on Tuesday at 8:30pm. The game can be seen on ESPN.
Which team do you think will have a 3-2 lead heading back to Boston? Have your say below!