Final: Celtics 100, Heat 98. And just like that, it's all over. Paul Pierce keeps it himself for the final possession, taking Dorell Wright one-on-one and drilling a jumper at the buzzer to win the game. An incredible ending to an incredible basketball game, as the Celtics win Game 3 in the final second.
Pierce is the hero with 32 points, including the final two for the win. The Celtics are one game away from sweeping the Miami Heat and moving on to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Unbelievable.
Fourth quarter, 11.7 seconds, 98-98: Wow. Not only does Dwyane Wade miss a three of his own and give the ball back to the Celtics, but he's now down on the ground, clutching his knee in pain.
An incredible turn of events with just under 12 seconds to play. Wade isn't getting up — he's got trainers attending to him during the Boston timeout, and it's unclear whether he'll be able to stay in this game.
And moreover, the Heat have blown their chance to steer clear of overtime and win this game now. It'll be Boston ball after the timeout, and the Celtics will have the chance to win this thing and take a 3-0 series lead.
Doesn't look like Wade will be on the floor for the final 12 seconds of regulation.
Fourth quarter, 33.6 seconds, 98-98: Costly miss from Ray Allen, and costly mistake from Rondo to tip the rebound out of bounds. Miami ball.
Fourth quarter, 45.3 seconds, 98-98: Dorell Wright may be just a youngster, but he's got all the confidence and poise in the world. He doesn't blink when Pierce knocks down the deadly trey; he just hits one of his own, putting Miami right back in the game.
The Celtics have called a timeout with just over 45 seconds left. They'll have the ball and a chance to pull back out in front.
Fourth quarter, 1:42, Celtics 98-95: Pierce takes an inadvisable long two, but Rajon Rondo's there with a huge rebound to get him another chance. Pierce takes advantage. A big 3 here to put the Celtics up three.
Fourth quarter, 2:27, Celtics 95-94: Ray Allen for 3. Huge. Absolutely huge. He's now made four of his nine attempts from long range tonight, and the Celtics are back in the driver's seat.
Now to see if they can get a stop or two …
Fourth quarter, 3:06, 92-92: Paul Pierce is just a warrior. Watch him charge into the paint, going one-on-five just like Wade, with no fear. He draws contact, he gets to the line, he hits one of two and we're tied.
This thing could go down to the wire, folks.
Fourth quarter, 3:46, Heat 92-91: The Heat have come all the way back. Dorell Wright hits two huge free throws, and Miami has made a 16-6 run to surge back into this one. An incredible turn of events in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics are obviously still very much alive.
Fourth quarter, 4:57, Celtics 91-88: Dwyane Wade doesn't seem to have any problem with playing one-on-five basketball. He's pretty darn good at it.
Wade drives past five guys and scores. Miami's back to within three. Wade's got 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting.
Fourth quarter, 5:55, Celtics 89-84: Miami catches a break here, as Kendrick Perkins is called for a questionable offensive foul away from the ball just as Ray Allen tosses up a perfect 3-point shot. The C's could easily be leading by eight right now instead of five.
Fourth quarter, 7:10, Celtics 87-84: In the first three quarters, Michael Beasley had eight points total. In the first five minutes of the fourth, he's had eight more. Yikes.
Fourth quarter, 8:24, Celtics 85-80: A few sloppy plays here and there, and the Heat are right back in the game, with the ball and down just five.
A couple of ball-handling mistakes. A miscue by Paul Pierce, who steps out of bounds. Another mistake from Pierce, charging into a well-positioned Dwyane Wade. These little things could add up. The Celtics have got to be careful.
Fourth quarter, 9:57, Celtics 85-76: Deadly 3-point shot from the corner by Paul Pierce, and the Celtics have their biggest lead of the game at nine.
Pierce now leads the Celtics with 24 points. He's had a huge second half.
End of third quarter, Celtics 80-72: Once again, the C's come up with an 8-0 run to pull back out in front. Another huge momentum swing for the Celtics at the close of the third quarter.
Finally, things have started clicking for the Boston bench, as Glen Davis and Tony Allen have started chipping in offensively. But more importantly, Paul Pierce is dominating, closing the quarter with Boston's last nine points.
What an opportune time for the Celtics' captain to spring to life. But can the C's hold on for 12 more minutes?
Third quarter, 3:02, Heat 68-67: Another quietly brilliant night for Ray Allen, who's shooting 7-of-12 and leading the Celtics with 22 points. But it's been a long while since anyone else in Celtic green scored a point.
If Doc Rivers and the C's allow this to become a one-on-one duel between Ray and Dwyane Wade, they're destined to lose.
Still waiting for the Boston bench to show up offensively. Still waiting for Kendrick Perkins to score his first point. Still waiting for this team to figure things out.
Third quarter, 6:18, Celtics 62-61: Dwyane Wade has found his outside shot, but it's not enough to keep the Heat in front.
Wade hits two 3s in two minutes to put Miami up five, but Kevin Garnett knocks down a couple shots and Rajon Rondo turns a pretty steal into an easy transition bucket.
The Heat have to play team basketball. They've gotten flashes of offense tonight from Dorell Wright and from Beasley, but no one's been able to consistently bring it.
Third quarter, 9:13, 53-53: Michael Beasley is finally starting to come to life for the Heat offensively. Only took him two and a half games.
Beasley scores the first four points of the half to keep Miami out in front, but the C's have hit just enough shots to stay neck-and-neck.
It'll be interesting to see how willing Doc is to dip into his bench in this second half. Can he get anything out of Tony, Baby or Rasheed? That question could decide this game.
Halftime, Heat 49-48: Throughout the first two games of this series, no one could stop raving about the play of the Celtics' bench. Tony Allen, Glen Davis — these were the unsung heroes of the Celtics' wins.
Tonight? Not so much. The C's have gotten a combined 42 points from their Big Four of Pierce, Garnett, (Ray) Allen and Rondo. Everyone else has been pretty much silent.
The Celtics proved in the first two games of this series that you can't beat them with just one guy. Tonight, the Heat are making a profound statement — you can't beat them with four.
Second quarter, 3:12, Celtics 45-42: Midway through the second quarter, Doc Rivers opts to sit Rajon Rondo for the first time, sticking Tony Allen in at the point. Less than two minutes later, he swaps Rondo right back in.
Doc's made it clear that having Rondo's energy and his athleticism on both ends of the floor is going to be a huge key to the Celtics holding on in this game. And tonight, the young point guard has been a tremendous offensive weapon — he's leading the Celtics with 12 points, driving and scoring at every opportunity. Another big night for him.
Second quarter, 6:23, Celtics 41-34: Uh oh, it's happening again.
In Game 2 on Tuesday night, we saw the Celtics go on a 21-0 run in the second quarter to bury Miami; this time, it's a quick 10-0 run to open a 39-31 lead.
Quentin Richardson ends the Miami scoring drought with a pretty-looking 3 from the wing, but the C's remain undaunted. Very next possession, Paul Pierce strips one from Q and sends it down the floor for a transition bucket. A pair of guys named Allen go on the 2-on-1 fast break and score, pushing the Boston lead back to seven.
There will be no shaking the Celtics' confidence tonight.
Second quarter, 9:30, Celtics 33-31: Paul Pierce finds himself in foul trouble when he's called for a questionable loose ball foul early in the second. With his second personal, he's forced to sit for the first time.
But Rajon Rondo has remained on the floor for every second of this game for the Celtics, and his energy hasn't fallen off one bit. He continues to lead a poised, smart Celtics offense that knows how to make the extra pass.
With Wade sitting out to start the second quarter, the C's have found their way back into this one.
End of first quarter, Heat 29-27: Perhaps the Heat have finally found a second banana for Dwyane Wade. They've found, of all people, Dorell Wright.
Wright's come off the bench for six points; Wade has 15. The rest of the team is still asleep, but it doesn't seem to matter. If not for a timely 3-ball from Paul Pierce on the Celtics' last possession, this would be a five-point Miami lead. Wade and Wright are getting the job done just fine by themselves.
First quarter, 3:15, Heat 21-16: This is what it's come to — Dwyane Wade has just said, "Forget it, I'm winning this game myself" and taken over. So far, it's working.
Wade's got 11 points right now on perfect 5-of-5 shooting, and he's also added two rebounds and an assist on a nice Udonis Haslem jumper. Right now, he's winning the game of one-on-five.
But can it last all night? What happens if he tries to carry Miami all the way to the win but runs out of steam in the fourth quarter?
Doesn't seem like an airtight plan. I still say someone else has got to step up.
First quarter, 6:06, 10-10: No one in a Miami uniform besides Dwyane Wade can hit a shot. What else is new?
This is the same problem that dogged the Heat in the first two games of this series, and it doesn't seem to be going away.
Michael Beasley is 0-for-1. Quentin Richardson and Carlos Arroyo are each 0-for-2. Wade is going off, though, and that's the only reason the Heat are alive in this game.
Can Miami steal one game in this series simply because Wade scores 50? It's distinctly possible.
First quarter, 9:16, Celtics 4-2: Obviously the two villains to this Miami crowd are Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but neither one seems to mind.
The two Boston veterans are showered in boos every time they touch the ball, but that hasn't stopped them from scoring once each and staking the Celtics to an early 4-2 lead.
At this point, these guys are used to being hated in every city in America but one. You could even say they revel in it.
7:05 p.m.: All right, let's do this thing. The Heat are back home in Miami, and Kevin Garnett is back in Celtic green. Let's get started with Game 3.
8 a.m.: The Celtics have a 2-0 series lead at home early in the playoffs, but as we've seen in the past, that has never guaranteed anything.
With this team, it means very little. They're still very vulnerable, and they're still one or two mental lapses away from letting the No. 5-seeded Miami Heat back into this series.
When they take the floor at American Airlines Arena in Game 3, they have to stay focused. The key to winning when you're up 2-0 is playing like you're down 2-0. If the Celtics keep giving a max effort and don't ease up until the final buzzer, they'll be in good shape.
Dwyane Wade doesn't like being down in an early hole, and he's going to play like a man possessed, looking to keep his team alive. The Celtics had better be ready.
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