Final: Celtics 96, Heat 86. There will be no Dwyane Wade heroics this time — the Celtics have finished off the Miami Heat in five games, and they’re moving on to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Ray Allen finishes with 24 points, Paul Pierce adds 21 and Rajon Rondo gives the Celtics 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in their 96-86 win at home in Game 5.
It’s on to Round 2.
Fourth quarter, 1:18, Celtics 96-86: Mario Chalmers hits a quick 3 to bring the Heat back to within eight, but this time it’s Paul Pierce’s turn to hit the jumper that breaks Miami’s back.
These Celtics can’t miss. And they can’t lose this one, either.
Fourth quarter, 2:05, Celtics 94-83: Another 3 from Ray Allen, another dagger through Miami’s hearts. Only a matter of time now — the Celtics appear ready for round two.
Fourth quarter, 2:42, Celtics 91-80: Rajon Rondo makes a nice hustle play to save an offensive rebound, and the Celtics have the ball and a timeout with 2:42 left.
The Wade magic doesn’t appear to be there this time. The Celtics look poised to finish. The Heat look ready for summer vacation.
Fourth quarter, 4:19, Celtics 90-78: Unlike on Sunday, the Celtics are hitting their free throws in this one. Two from Glen Davis here puts them at 18-of-19 for the night, and they’re up 12 with just over four minutes to play.
And of course, if the Heat want to mount a comeback, it’s all on Wade. He’s still not getting much from his supporting cast.
Fourth quarter, 6:34, Celtics 86-76: The Big Three are thriving under pressure. The Celtics can’t be stopped.
Ray, KG and now Pierce each score in short succession, putting the Celtics’ lead back in double digits. The Heat just look dead defensively. Erik Spoelstra desperately needs this timeout.
Fourth quarter, 8:20, Celtics 82-74: The Celtics’ superb ball movement is back, and it’s given them an eight-point lead with eight minutes to play.
The Celtics make not one, not two but five extra passes, and Ray Allen drives a dagger through the Heat’s hearts with a wide-open 3 from the top of the key.
Doesn’t look like Wade can do it himself this time. The Celtics aren’t ready to back down.
Fourth quarter, 9:41, Celtics 76-72: There’s good news and bad on Ray Allen.
The good news is he appears ready to step up and hit big jump shots, matching Wade shot for shot and keeping the Celtics out in front.
The bad news is foul trouble. Ray’s got five. He’d better be careful, because his team will need him down the stretch.
Fourth quarter, 10:14, Celtics 73-69: All right, here goes. It’s time for another fourth quarter of all Dwyane Wade, all the time. Did you expect anything less?
End of third quarter, Celtics 71-65: Only against a player of Dwyane Wade’s caliber can you think, “The Heat are down six, but they’ve got the us right where they want us.”
Smart money says that’s what the Celtics are thinking right now. Wade has scored the last eight points for Miami, including a pair of deep 3s, and he’s brought his team back to within six. That’s definitely what you’d call striking distance.
The Celtics will need a Herculean effort in the final 12 minutes to hold off Wade and cling to this fourth-quarter lead. But if they do, it’s on to the second round.
Third quarter, 3:19, Celtics 69-56: The Celtics are in good shape, but they shouldn’t get complacent just yet. The Heat are still within range for Wade to take over and bring them back to life.
The Celtics’ rhythm offensively has been off for the last couple of minutes — they’re not passing well, they’re not hitting the open man anymore, and they’re wasting possessions.
Give Wade a chance, and he’ll eat you alive. The Celtics know that better than anyone.
Third quarter, 6:18, Celtics 67-46: When these Celtics are moving the ball well, they’re just beautiful to watch. Nothing in the world quite like it.
The C’s have this Miami defense figured out — you make one pass, and there’s a guy there to help. But if you make two, three or even four, you can get open shots and tear the Heat to shreds. That’s what we’re seeing now.
Round 2 of the playoffs is close enough to taste.
Third quarter, 9:02, Celtics 56-44: When the Celtics don’t let Dwyane Wade beat them at one-on-five and dominate the game, the Heat suddenly look very flat. Imagine that.
Boston has brought a newfound defensive intensity tonight against Wade, and the Heat suddenly look completely lost. Without their star going off, they’ve got nothing.
Where’s the elimination game urgency? Erik Spoelstra’s got to dig deep and find it, because it’s not showing up.
Halftime, Celtics 47-38: The Celtics come up with consecutive steals to close the first half, and the Heat come up with consecutive hard hits on Rajon Rondo to indicate their frustration.
Rondo just rolls with it. He’s been a trooper in this first half, playing practically every second and piling up 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists. The Celtics have rode his energy to a double-digit halftime lead, and they’re poised to take care of business in Game 5 at home.
Dwyane Wade’s leading the way with 11 points for Miami.
Second quarter, 3:48, Celtics 42-30: This game has turned physical on both sides, and the officials haven’t been shy with the whistles.
It’s hardly surprising. The Heat are clearly not happy about the 9-1 Boston run that’s pushed this game back into double digits, and the Celtics aren’t happy with the physical, borderline-dirty play from Quentin Richardson and Jermaine O’Neal.
To some extent, we’ve seen this all series long.
Second quarter, 6:11, Celtics 33-29: Dwyane Wade still only has six points, and he’s had to work for them, too.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been saying all week that it’s not the gaudy point totals that worry him with Wade; it’s the shooting percentages. And thanks to the Celtics’ hard work to contest every shot, Wade is shooting 2-of-6 from the field tonight.
Wade’s trying to elevate his game and put the Heat back in front in this game, but he can’t do it himself. Especially not with Allen and Pierce playing him as tough as they are tonight. The Celtics have found their poise defensively and look prepared to hold their ground.
Second quarter, 9:04, Celtics 31-25: The Celtics are struggling a little bit defensively with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins off the floor.
With Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis as their primary bigs, they’re enabling the Heat to get a couple of decent looks down low, including a rare uncontested bucket from Jermaine O’Neal. You know you’re doing something wrong when that guy scores easily.
The one constant on the floor for the Celtics tonight has been Paul Pierce, who hasn’t yet sat for a second. And he’s playing brilliantly on both ends. The Celtics have hit a rough patch as a team defensively, but they still lead by six.
End of first quarter, Celtics 29-21: The Celtics have found their momentum and run with it. It’s a 13-4 Boston run to close the first quarter.
Every time the Heat make a mistake, the Celtics are jumping on it and capitalizing. Every bad pass turns into a turnover. Every turnover turns into a fast-break bucket. The Heat look a little bit unfocused, and the Celtics are ready to pounce.
They’re playing like they’ve got a series to close.
Paul Pierce is leading the way so far tonight with nine points for Boston; Rajon Rondo has eight.
First quarter, 3:06, Celtics 21-17: Dwyane Wade has turned it on, but so has Paul Pierce. The Celtics’ captain has seven points in the last three minutes.
Everything seems to be clicking offensively for the Celtics, who are moving the ball with ease and finding good open looks.
This is an elimination game for the Heat — Erik Spoelstra’s guys have got to find that urgency to play stronger, more focused defense. Wade can’t go off for 46 and save them every time. (Although he does have six already.)
First quarter, 6:27, Celtics 12-11: The most explosive guard on the floor tonight so far is not Dwyane Wade, but Rajon Rondo. That’s a huge sign for the Celtics in this close-out game.
Rondo is showing no hesitation to drive the lane and do it himself offensively. In a lot of games this season, he’s been waiting until the third quarter to really turn it on, easing into the role of distributor in the first half.
Not tonight. He’s leading everyone with six points on 3-of-3 shooting.
First quarter, 8:52, Celtics 8-6: We’re underway, the first thing you notice is that the Celtics are throwing every body they have at Dwyane Wade. Gee, I wonder why?
Ray Allen is doing a good job chasing Wade around in the Celtics’ man-to-man coverage, but both Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are quick to help out every time he touches the ball, and they’re limiting his opportunities well.
Meanwhile, the Celtics’ guards have scored the team’s first eight points. Good start for Allen and Rondo on both ends of the floor.
8 a.m.: The Celtics had a chance on Sunday in Game 4 to put the Miami Heat away, and they couldn’t get the job done. Luckily, they’ve got three more opportunities.
The C’s return home Tuesday night to the TD Garden for Game 5 of their first-round series with the Heat, and with a 3-1 series lead, they’ve got a chance to stamp their tickets to round two. But this time, they’ve got to do a better job on Dwyane Wade.
Wade went off for 46 points in Game 4 in Miami, singlehandedly willing his team to victory in a potential elimination game. Back in Boston, Doc Rivers’ squad will attempt to slow down Wade and end this series.
This is their best chance. If the C’s lose this one, they’re back in Miami for Game 6, facing a Heat team with its momentum building. Doc and the Celtics want to hammer the final nail in the Miami coffin right now.