Ray Allen scored 24 points, making
five 3-pointers in the second half, to help Boston beat Miami 96-86 in
Game 5 of their first-round playoff series on Tuesday night and
eliminate the Heat. With Heat star Dwyane Wade due to become a free
agent — along with James — it could be an eventful summer in Miami.
Boston advanced to the Eastern
Conference semifinals thanks to 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists
from Rajon Rondo. The Celtics will play either Cleveland or Chicago;
the Cavaliers took a 3-1 lead into Game 5 of their first-round series
later Tuesday night.
Wade scored 31 points — far short of
the franchise postseason-record 46 he scored Sunday in Game 4 in Miami
to help the Heat stave off elimination.
The Celtics led by as many as 21
points in the third quarter before Miami scored 16 of the next 18 points
to make it 69-62. Wade scored 13 in what turned into a 24-6 run that
cut the deficit to 73-70 on his three-point play with 10:14 left in the
Wade scored 20 in the second half in
all; he also finished with 10 assists and eight rebounds. But he was
just 10-for-24 shooting and 2-for-7 from 3-point range in the game. He
missed all three of his 3-point tries in the fourth quarter as the Heat
tried to eat away at the remainder of the Celtics' big lead.
Wade, who averaged just under 34
points in the series, now has a chance to test one of the hottest free
agent markets in memory. James will be the big prize, of course, but
Wade is right behind him and several teams could make a run at both
superstars to build a potential contender for years to come.
The Celtics beat the Bulls last year
in an overtime-laden, seven-game series in the first round. Boston
hooked up with James and the Cavaliers for seven games in the conference
semis in 2008 on the way to the Celtics' NBA-record 17th championship.
"We just have to come out with a
defensive mindset, keep LeBron from getting on fire," Celtics center
Kendrick Perkins said in the on-court, postgame scoreboard interview
while the Cavaliers and Bulls were early in the third quarter.
It was the second straight night a
Boston team clinched a playoff series at the TD Garden. On Monday, the
Bruins beat the Buffalo Sabres in Game 6 to advance to the NHL's Eastern
Conference semifinals and a matchup with either the Philadelphia Flyers
or Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Celtics led by eight points after
one quarter and 10 at halftime, when Wade had 11 points, six assists
and five rebounds but the Heat were shooting just 35 percent as a team —
0-for-8 from 3-point range. Paul Pierce had 13, and Rondo had 12 points and
eight assists to help Boston to the 48-38 halftime lead.
The Celtics made four 3-pointers in
the first 4:37 of the third quarter and took a 67-46 lead with seven minutes
left. But Mario Chalmers hit back-to-back 3 pointers and Wade followed
soon after with a pair of free throws and a pair of 3-pointers to make
it 69-62 with 2:18 left in the third.
Miami cut it to three before Allen
drove and drew a foul and goaltending call on Joel Anthony.
Pierce passed Dennis Johnson
for ninth on the Celtics career playoff scoring list. … It was Wade's
63rd straight postseason game with double digits in scoring. …
Chalmers, who scored 20, outscored the entire Celtics bench (14 points).
… Allen had seven 3-pointers in Game 2.