Mike Miller Misses 3 on Final Possession, Celtics Hold On for 85-82 Win Over Heat


Mike Miller Misses 3 on Final Possession, Celtics Hold On for 85-82 Win Over Heat

Final: Celtics 85, Heat 82. OK, now it's over. Mike Miller misses the final shot with the game on the line, and the Celtics have survived a scary comeback attempt from LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

The C's hold on despite their captain and leading scorer, Paul Pierce, managing just one point. They get 19 from Kevin Garnett, 16 from Glen Davis, and a triple-double (11-10-10) from Rajon Rondo.

The Heat get 24 points from Chris Bosh and 22 from King James, but they come up short.

Miami's winning streak ends at eight. They seize control of the Eastern Conference back to the Celtics, who are now 3-0 this season against the Heat.

Fourth quarter, 6.3 seconds, Celtics 85-82: Glen Davis draws contact and gets to the line; he drains both free throws. Now it's official — the Heat need a 3.

They've got a ton of shooters. House, Miller, Jones and even Wade or LeBron are capable of knocking one down.

This game is not over. I repeat: This game is not over.

Fourth quarter, 10.5 seconds, Celtics 83-82: LeBron gets fouled and makes just one of two; the Celtics are saved. Ray Allen comes away with the loose ball after LeBron dives into the seats, and he gets fouled.

That was the Heat's last foul to give. Now you'll have to expect them to foul again.

If you're the Celtics, Allen's the guy you want at the line. If he can make two, the Heat will be down to one last shot for a 3 and the tie.

Eddie House, anyone?

Fourth quarter, 18.2 seconds, Celtics 83-81: You want drama? You've got it.

Rajon Rondo may have a triple-double (11 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds), but he's unable to hit the big shot to put the game away. The Heat get another chance.

LeBron James comes away with the rebound, and he calls timeout. Looks like the Heat will have one last chance to score and force overtime.

Or, on the road, do they take a gamble and go for a 3 and the win? They've certainly got the shooters.

Fourth quarter, 1:53, Celtics 81-79: The Celtics call a timeout late in the shot clock — in a moment, they'll have the ball with eight seconds to shoot.

An insurance bucket here would be absolutely huge. The C's led this game by as much as 13 earlier in the second half, and now they're melting down. A quick basket here would stop the bleeding.

Who would the C's rather have step up — Rajon Rondo, who needs to show some grit in crunch time, or Paul Pierce, who just needs to score, period?

Fourth quarter, 2:23, Celtics 81-79: Rajon Rondo just passed up a wide-open shot in the lane to kick out for Ray Allen for a 3. Allen misses.

When will Rondo learn to assert himself and score in the fourth quarter?

Fourth quarter, 3:02, Celtics 81-77: The Heat refuse to go away. They've really cracked down on Boston's perimeter offense, refusing to surrender a single easy shot, and they remain within four.

The Celtics have managed to maintain a lead despite only one point from Paul Pierce. One single solitary point.

Sure does help that the C's other six rotation guys are all in double figures.

Fourth quarter, 5:30, Celtics 79-75: It's bad enough that Paul Pierce only has one point in this game. But when he leaves LeBron wide open for a jumper like that, it's even worse.

Pierce is getting seriously outplayed by LBJ on both ends. Rondo, however, has played well against him all afternoon.

Pierce has been such a no-show in this game that the C's might have to hide him defensively. Put Rondo on LeBron, Allen on Wade, and keep Pierce out of the way. He's not getting the job done.

Fourth quarter, 7:22, Celtics 77-71: LeBron charges the lane and drains a nice floater. The lead is cut to six.

The C's are starting to come undone. They need to keep getting good shots on one end, and keep working hard for stops on the other.

At the moment they look very, very vulnerable.

Fourth quarter, 8:30, Celtics 77-69: With the C's only up eight, Ray Allen tries to knock down a 3 to drive a dagger through the Heat's hearts. No good.

The C's need to keep executing well offensively. They can't get overconfident against a team that can score in bunches like Miami.

Fourth quarter, 9:23, Celtics 77-66: How many big buckets can the C's get out of Von Wafer? The C's new third guard has knocked down a couple deep 3s to pad the Celtics' lead. He's now got 10 points off the bench.

The Heat need to start hitting 3s and getting stops. It won't be easy.

End of third quarter, Celtics 74-61: The C's have to feel good about their chances now — the Heat are getting desperate and chucking up 3s, and they're not falling. Eddie House, Mike Miller and James Jones are firing away, but to no avail.

The Celtics lead by 13. The Heat are 2-for-12 from long range.

When will desperation transition to sheer hopelessness? The Heat are running out of time.

Third quarter, 4:24, Celtics 65-54: The Heat are starting to take a stand, as Chris Bosh knocks down a jumper over KG, and then contests KG on the other end to close out a nice stop. Momentum is starting to move back Miami's way.

Bosh is still perfect from the field — 5-for-5 for a game-high 15 points. Give that man some credit.

Third quarter, 6:43, Celtics 59-46: The Heat stay angry; the Celtics stay efficient. Rajon Rondo humiliates Wade on a drive to the basket, extending the C's lead to 13 and their third-quarter run to 20-3.

Wade is really, really peeved right now. First the flagrant, then another foul, and then Rondo schooled him for a bucket.

The C's are really under Miami's skin now.

Third quarter, 7:28, Celtics 57-46: KG sets a pick on Mike Miller; Dwyane Wade overreacts and shoves KG hard to the ground. Unsurprisingly, all hell breaks loose.

Wade gets a flagrant foul; it's surprising that LeBron James didn't get T'd up as well. LBJ twice shoved Rajon Rondo during the fracas over the technical foul call, with no repercussions.

Third quarter, 8:30, Celtics 51-44: The words, "Ray Allen for three!" sound even better when followed by the words, "Timeout, Miami." Talk about a momentum swing — the Celtics have opened the second half on a 12-1 run, and counting.

Good lord. What did Doc Rivers say in that locker room at halftime?

Third quarter, 9:29, Celtics 46-44: Finally! The Heat are on the board in the second half. After a 7-0 Boston run to open, Chris Bosh draws a foul from Kevin Garnett and drains one of two free throws.

But the C's are in control now, and if they can keep putting stops together, you have to like their chances of pulling away.

Third quarter, 11:17, Heat 43-42: Solid start to the second half for the Heat, who get a free throw from Rajon Rondo and a bucket inside from Kendrick Perkins to sneak their way back into the game.

Shockingly, Perk is now the game's leading scorer with 11 points. Wonder how long that'll last.

Halftime, Heat 43-39: In a battle of Big Threes, it's pretty clear who's got the advantage after 24 minutes.

The Heat get 10 points each from LeBron James and Chris Bosh, plus nine from Dwyane Wade. The Celtics' leading scorers are Kendrick Perkins with nine points and Glen Davis with eight.

The C's starters are still looking to turn it on offensively. They're having some trouble against the younger, more athletic Heat.

Follow along with our live chat to get further analysis. The second half is coming right up.

Second quarter, 2:51, Celtics 35-32: One of the Celtics' tactics for this game is clear: Be physical with Chris Bosh.

Kevin Garnett just muscled up to Bosh and forced him to lose control of the ball, dropping it out of bounds — another Celtics forced turnover. They're playing angry, aggressive defense in this game, refusing to let the Heat get comfortable.

The C's have a big edge early in the turnover battle. That's always a key for them.

Second quarter, 5:10, Celtics 31-30: The last minute of this game is a nice microcosm of the second quarter — the Heat settle for a jumper, while the C's get a bucket inside.

Mike Miller drains a 3; Glen Davis makes a layup to put the C's back in front.

This has been a defensive struggle of a ballgame so far, but you have to trust the Celtics more than the Heat to put the ball in the hole. They're getting post position and executing well.

Second quarter, 6:30, Celtics 29-27: The Celtics have retaken the lead, and Paul Pierce just drew a foul from LeBron James to get to the line and pad the lead.

The TD Garden crowd is really amped up about one personal foul on LeBron. You'd think he got ejected or something.

Second quarter, 8:53, Heat 25-24: The Heat are doing their thing, letting LeBron and Wade take turns dominating the offense in the second quarter while the other guy sits.

LeBron's sitting, and Dwyane Wade just knocked down a nice 15-footer to pad the Miami lead. Mike Miller, Eddie House and Joel Anthony stood there watching.

That's the Heat in a nutshell.

Second quarter, 9:50, Heat 23-22: The C's string together three consecutive steals, but they're having some trouble finishing. On one possession, Glen Davis misses the world's easiest layup and then delivers a cheap-shot foul to Chris Bosh on the rebound; on the next, Von Wafer bricks a 3.

The stops are good; the execution on the other end is pretty ugly, though. The C's have to straighten all this out.

End of first quarter, Heat 20-15: The good news is the C's have stayed out of foul trouble — with their thinning numbers and the aggressive guys matched up with them, that's important. The bad news? Well, for starters, they're losing.

LeBron James goes off for eight points, three rebounds and three assists, and the Heat are in control early. They've established their tempo on both ends, which is never easy against these Celtics.

Ray Allen drops six points for the C's in the first quarter; Rajon Rondo adds two points, four boards and three dimes. Not too shabby.

Paul Pierce remains scoreless, and KG isn't scoring much either. The C's need to keep the ball moving and throw a few different looks Miami's way.

First quarter, 2:31, Heat 17-13: I think the very first page of the guidebook on beating the Heat begins, "Don't let LeBron James get going in transition." The Celtics didn't do their homework.

King James stacks up a couple of easy fast-break buckets. He's got six points, three boards and three assists in the first quarter, and he's just getting started.

To the credit of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, they've managed to guard LeBron and D-Wade effectively so far without getting into foul trouble. But running with the young guns is a real challenge.

First quarter, 4:22, Celtics 11-10: Finally Kevin Garnett gets going offensively — he gets inside for a quick bucket, draws a foul from Chris Bosh, and makes the free throw. The C's take the lead.

KG's now got three points and three boards. Solid start.

First quarter, 5:56, 8-8: The Celtics have still done nothing to get Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett going offensively, but they're getting plenty out of Ray Allen to split the difference.

Ray gets inside for a bucket and a three-point play. He's now got six points, a game high.

First quarter, 6:54, Heat 6-5: You've heard those words 2,562 times already over the last five years — why not one more? Ray Allen for 3.

The C's offense has been really slow to get going, but there's really no way to stop them when Ray's open on the wing in a 3-on-2 fast break. Money in the bank.

First quarter, 8:51, Heat 4-2: There are basically only two plays in Erik Spoelstra's playbook, apparently — isolating LeBron James, and isolating Dwyane Wade. And yet somehow, it's working.

The Heat get one bucket from each of their two big stars, and they lead 4-2. Meanwhile the C's keep trying to get buckets inside with Perk and KG, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas has stepped up his game defensively.

First quarter, 11:23, Celtics 2-0: LeBron James misses a running floater in the lane on the game's opening possession, and the C's strike first. Kevin Garnett establishes the post game early, pumping the ball inside to Kendrick Perkins, and Perk finishes with a short jumper in traffic.

Excellent start for Boston. It's all about getting the post offense going early and often.

12:15 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where the Celtics are all set to host the Miami Heat for the second time this season.

Last time the "Heatles" came to Boston, there were bragging rights on the line — it was opening night. This time, they're fighting for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Be sure to follow along for all the action on NESN's live blog, as well as our new live chat.

Oh, and I suppose the game's on TV, too.

8 a.m.: The Celtics are no longer the hunted in the Eastern Conference playoff race — they're now the hunters. They've now lost back-to-back games, and three of their last four; meanwhile the Miami Heat have won eight straight, and they now lead the East rat race by a half-game.

That, you'd think, would make Sunday's showdown with the Miami superteam at the TD Garden all the more significant. But the Celtics themselves are keeping that notion on the down-low.

"They all carry weight," coach Doc Rivers said. "Obviously, whenever you have a game where you can win a season series and all that stuff, it carries weight. But no more than when you play any of the other good teams."

The stakes have been raised in recent weeks — after losses to Dallas and Los Angeles still in their rear-view mirrors, it would behoove the C's to step up and win a big one.

But they're not worried about the idea that they have "something to prove" to the rest of the league.

"We have something to prove to ourselves," Paul Pierce said. "We just want to play better basketball, more consistent basketball, than we have of late. We've got to be able to put together two halves. Going into the All-Star break, we want to already be playing well. Let's start picking it up."

There's no tougher game to pick it up than when taking on LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. But with a few tough losses behind them and the midseason break in front of them, now would be a nice time for the Celtics to earn a statement win.

The C's and the Heat tip off Sunday at 1 p.m.

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