Game over, Celtics win 93-91: Wade got a good look, but it missed. The series is 2-2. See ya in Miami.
Overtime, :14.0, Celtics 91-91: Foul to give. Here we go.
Overtime, :21.4, Celtics 93-91: Pietrus had been far from a hero for the first four quarters, but in overtime he made two huge plays by coming down with offensive rebounds to help Boston preserve its lead. Rondo drew a foul and hit one of two free throws, so the Heat again had the ball with almost an exact amount of time as they had at the end of regulation. Of course, that was a tie game.
Overtime, 1:38, Celtics 92-91: The paying customer got just what they wanted in overtime. Instead of Pierce versus LeBron, they get to see Pietrus versus Battier, plus the real stars of the show, the referees.
This one has steadily devolved from an officiating standpoint on both sides. James and Pierce were sent to the bench with six fouls, almost overshadowing a heck of a game going on.
End of regulation, game tied 89-89: Pietrus and Garnett doubled James, then Garnett challenged Haslem's buzzer beater. Pretty much Garnett was everywhere on that possession and overtime awaits.
Fourth quarter, :21.1, game tied 89-89: Apparently, Pietrus and Rondo went with the "Don't Cover the Best Player in the World At All" strategy. It did not work out for the Celtics, as James nailed a game-tying three.
Garnett was called for a bizarre offensive foul on the opposite end, giving the Heat the ball with a chance to win.
Fourth quarter, 1:01, Celtics 87-86: Anyone who wants to claim the refs are the reason the Celtics lose could take a look at the Celtics' last possession as a definitive argument against that.
Up by three points, the Celtics forced two defensive stops but failed to corral the defensive rebound. It led to the ball being knocked out of bounds by Pierce, and Chalmers convertin a layup on the ensuing possession.
Fourth quarter, 3:07, Celtics 85-83: If the Celtics do not win this game, the officials might not make it out of this place alive. That is not to say that they have made all bad calls, but the calls they have made have not sat well with the Boston crowd.
A double-foul on Garnett and James nixed what would have been a wide-open layup for Garnett, and an offensive foul on Pierce wiped out Pierce's go-ahead bucket on the break.
Rondo was able to break the tie with a running layup following some excellent team defense by Allen and Garnett on James. To avoid an elimination game on the road Tuesday, the Celtics were in need of a win here.
Fourth quarter, 6:23, Celtics 81-78: Norris Cole was a thorn in the side of the Celtics back in the second game of the season in December, when he scored 20 points. He was nowhere near that in this game, but his five fourth-quarter points briefly helped the Heat take the lead before Allen and Garnett exercised their clutch genes.
(Sorry, Wally Szczerbiak.)
Allen flicked in a three and Garnett tapped in a Bass miss to force a timeout by the Heat. The Celtics would have to keep chipping, as Rivers likes to say.
Fourth quarter, 8:54, game tied 74-74: Pierce, Wade, Rondo, Bass and Chalmers. That is a list of the players who had four personal fouls or more with more than a third of the fourth quarter remaining.
The TD Garden crowd just about lost its collective mind when Wade bowled into Pierce on a drive, only for a foul to be called away from the ball on Bass.
More importantly, the Celtics scored all of one point in the first 3:06 of the fourth, while the Heat managed to work six points to knot up the score.
End of third quarter, Celtics 73-68: As sharp as the Celtics were in the first half, it figured that they would experience a drop-off in the third quarter. But the drop-off was probably a lot more than they would have liked.
The Celtics shot just 5-for-16 and were whistled for seven fouls (after comitting 12 in the first half). The Heat also finally came around on the boards, where they doubled up the Celtics 12-6 in the third quarter.
Rondo's foul trouble caused problems for the Celtics, obviously. With nobody to get him the ball in his preferred places, Garnett missed all four shots he took and Dooling was the only Celtics player to muster more than two points in the frame.
Third quarter, 3:04, Celtics 69-61: Rondo picked up his fourth foul on a dubious clearout call while trying to post up, and that was trouble for the Celtics. The best player on the court was in foul trouble with well over a quarter left to play and the lead dwindling rapidly.
More than any fouls or non-fouls, though, was the Celtics' continued challenges when Garnett was not on the court. They fared well during a stretch in the first half, but the Heat were able to capitalize in the third quarter. Garnett returned to the court after Rondo picked up his fourth foul, but the lineup of Garnett, Dooling, Allen, Pietrus and Daniels left the Celtics without a true ballhandler on the floor.
Third quarter, 8:05, Celtics 65-49: Every scrum seemed to end with the Celtics coming out with the ball, and every miss seemed to be rebounded by them as well. With Rondo running the show effectively once again, (he already had a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists with more than 20:05 of game time to play) the Celtics were off and running in the third quarter after a slow start.
Halftime, Celtics 61-47: An atrocious end to the first half almost undid all the Celtics' positive work. Things started to unravel after Rondo was called for an offensive foul, then picked up a deserved technical foul for kicking Battier while the two were on the ground.
After that, the Heat cut a lead that had been as large as 18 points down to 14. Still, the Celtics' strong first half overall should not be overlooked.
The Good: Rondo was not just good, he was great for the Celtics. He had eight points and 10 assists, with his lone turnover coming via that offensive foul. … Kevin Garnett was an all-around force in the paint with nine points, eight rebounds and nearly impenetrable defense. … Paul Pierce once again was effective, if not pretty. He scored a team-high 18 points on 6-for-13 shooting, and Ray Allen was right behind him with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. … LeBron James was strong again, although not off-the-charts like he was in Game 3. James scored 19 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field. … Keyon Dooling drilled two big threes and Brandon Bass chipped in nine points and six boards. The role players came to play for the Celtics as well as the stars.
The Bad: Dwyane Wade could not solve the Celtics defense again, shooting 2-for-11. He did make an impact defensively with two steals and two blocked shots, but the Heat need more than a glorified Michael Cooper impression for Wade to win this ball game.
The So-so: Mario Chalmers had six points and three assists, which is a somewhat solid total for a guy who has to chase around Rondo on defense. Chalmers' three personal fouls did not help Miami's cause, however.
Second quarter, 2:38, Celtics 57-40: This was one of those halves where the Celtics could do no wrong. Pierce pump-faked Wade off his feet, ducked under and drew a foul as he put up an off-balance shot that found net.
The Celtics shot 21 for their first 40 shots and this one was beginning to resemble their win over Miami in the regular season, when the Celtics shot 60 percent from the field.
Second quarter, 3:08, Celtics 55-38: This one turned into a clinic quickly. Whether that translates into a Boston win is still to be decided, but there was little doubt who held control. Every member of the Celtics to see the floor played an almost flawless game in the first 21 minutes.
Second quarter, 5:52, Celtics 49-32: The picture that explained the Celtics' 18-9 rebounding advantage came on a missed free throw by James. Five white shirts were in the paint to corral a bouncy rebound, with Pietrus coming out with the ball.
In addition to the Celtics' rebounding, their defensive energy was off the charts. As for the offense, Rondo took care of that. He finally took a seat to raucous cheers after going about 12 feet off the ground for an offensive rebound, but that was only one piece of his sterling first half. Rondo had eight points, seven assists and no turnovers in in 16 minutes.
Second quarter, 10:23, Celtics 42-26: The brief break between the first and second quarters is not enough time for a team to make any major adjustments, but the Heat needed a timeout less than two minutes into the second quarter because they needed to do something — anything — to slow down the Celtics.
Dooling drilled a three from the left corner to complete the Celtics' 8-3 run to begin the frame. Once again, an unconventional lineup gave the Heat trouble.
End of first quarter, Celtics 34-23: With Garnett sitting down for a sizable chunk of time, the Celtics were able to win virtually every area in the first quarter. They controlled the boards with an 11-5 rebounding advantage and handed out seven assists on their 13 field goals. Pierce was a major piece of Boston's success with 12 points and Rondo had a strong opening with eight points, four assists and no turnovers.
As in Game 3, though, the Celtics got crucial input from their non-stars. Bass pulled down five boards and scored seven points. He also had a surprise two assists. Marquis Daniels and Keyon Dooling made early appearances, and although Daniels got called for two tough defensive fouls, both players brought the defensive energy the Celtics have become accustomed to.
There were no techs, but the actual officiating seemed pretty spotty in the first quarter. Daniels' fouls looked questionable, as we mentioned, with one being solid defense and the other appearing to be a clear moving screen on Udonis Haslem. Rondo also appeared to get hit on the face on a drive, but no foul was called.
Because the Celtics led by 11 points, though, nobody seemed to be complaining. Surprise, surprise.
First quarter, 4:46, Celtics 21-9: The Celtics were scoring so effectively, they even gave a gift basket to the Heat.
Garnett and Bass bumped into each other going for a rebound, leading to one of the two (it was tough to tell which) knocking the ball into their own basket. It was Miami's first bucket by someone not named Chalmers. The two points were awarded to James, which was just about the only way he could score in the early going.
Bass has done a valiant job all series trying to get out on Battier's corner threes, but Bass was a split-second too late when Battier drained a triple to finally give the Heat some real offense.
First quarter, 7:05, Celtics 14-4: Nearly five minutes into the game, the only member of the Heat to score was Mario Chalmers.
James and Wade were each 0-for-2 from the field while Chalmers dropped his first two shots, a pair of floaters. That was not a good thing for the Heat, who watched as Pierce and Allen drained 3-pointers to extend the Celtics' lead to 10 points from the jump-off. Brandon Bass was active on the glass early, taking advantage of his strength advantage against Battier to to haul in three of the available 10 rebounds.
7:46 p.m.: Paul Pierce has not had an outstanding offensive series statistically. He shot 20-for-58, or 34.5 percent, from the field in the first three games. A lot of that had to do with having to expend energy defending LeBron James, which is why Celtics coach Doc Rivers was not very surprised the Pierce has been off on a couple of his open looks.
"I know he's not shooting a high percentage in this series, but he's had great shots," Rivers said during his media availability prior to Game 4. "The last two games, especially, he's had terrific shots. He's getting to the elbow for his little pull-up jump shot. At the end of the day, that's all you can ask for."
Rivers also provided a further explanation for his choice in Game 3 to give Marquis Daniels extended minutes off the bench, which were pivotal in the Celtics' victory.
"It takes me some time sometimes to make a decision and sometimes we make it right away," Rivers said. "We talked about it for Game 1, actually, and then more for Game 2, so going into Game 3 we'd already made the decision that we needed to add an extra player, more for rest than anything else."
The debate came down to Daniels or Sasha Pavlovic, and the staff apparently was unanimous in supporting Daniels.
The only roster news comes from the Miami side, where Chris Bosh still will not play and Joel Anthony will replace Ronny Turiaf at center in the Heat's starting lineup. James could spend some time guarding Garnett in this game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The probable starting lineups are below.
8 a.m. ET: Home-court advantage has held so far in both conference finals, and the Celtics hope to keep it that way Sunday.
The Celtics need a win to pull even with the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, but they know it will not be easy. LeBron James has been a handful all series, and he is not likely to slow down with his legacy on the line.
Kevin Garnett capitalized on his size advantage when both teams went small in Game 3, but it is unclear how often the Celtics can go to the well before the Heat make an adjustment. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra may already have made a fix, which could force a counter by the Celtics, which could force another counter by the Heat. All in all, it should be fun to watch.
Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 8:30 p.m.
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