When this first-round playoff series began, a lot of people were picking the Celtics to beat the Miami Heat and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. But few expected them to win this convincingly.
When they take the court in Miami on Sunday afternoon, they’ll be going for the sweep. The C’s have won in every which way already in this series — a comeback in Game 1, a blowout in Game 2, a buzzer-beater in Game 3. They’ve flexed their muscles both at home and on the road. And they’ve brought the Heat to within one game of an unceremonious playoff exit. Now’s their chance to finish the job.
When and Where
Head to Head
It’s hard to imagine a better spot for the Celtics than this one — in three regular-season games and three playoff games this year against the Heat, they’re now 6-0. And to seal the deal in this series and move onto the next round, all they need to do is win one of their next four. You never want to say a series is over before it’s over, but wow. This one’s pretty close to over.
Kendrick Perkins vs. Jermaine O’Neal
Far and away, the biggest disappointment for the Heat in this series has been O’Neal, who’s shooting a dreadful 5-for-31 through three games, completely failing to carry his end of the deal offensively. With the Heat’s backs to the wall, this is O’Neal’s last chance to come to life and give his team a productive outing. Will he respond to the pressure? Or will Perk continue to fight him off, putting a body on him on every possession and challenging every shot? If it’s the latter, then Miami’s about to start summer vacation early.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Carlos Arroyo
Shooting guard: Dwyane Wade
Small forward: Quentin Richardson
Power forward: Michael Beasley
Center: Jermaine O’Neal
- Paul Pierce had 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting for the Celtics in Game 3. He is averaging 20.3 points per game in the series on 41.9 percent shooting.
- Ray Allen is 11-for-24 from 3-point range in this series.
- Rasheed Wallace has played 5,474 career minutes in the playoffs. Among active players, only Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan have played more.
- Michael Beasley shot 7-of-11 for 16 points for the Heat in Game 3.
- Udonis Haslem has 11.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game against the Celtics in his career.
- Dwyane Wade has averaged 25.9 points per playoff game for his career. Among active players, only Allen Iverson, LeBron James and Tracy McGrady have averaged more.
Black and Blue
The Celtics have everyone healthy (and no one suspended).
Dwyane Wade sat out the final 11 seconds of the fourth quarter of Game 3 with cramps in his left calf. He insists he’ll be ready to go Sunday in Game 4.
Time to see if D-Wade’s got anything left. He’s tired, he’s demoralized, and now he’s a little banged up, too. And it remains to be seen whether his supporting cast can really get it done. All the Celtics need to do is hope that Perk keeps shutting down Jermaine O’Neal, and that Kevin Garnett keeps slowing Michael Beasley, and no one knocks down too many outside shots for Miami. The C’s have proven time and time again this year that Wade can’t beat them himself. Now they just need one more win.