Final score, Celtics win 91-72:
Led by Rondo's brilliant triple-double and a total defensive effort, the Celtics simply overwhelmed the Miami Heat to roll to their fifth consecutive victory.
The Celtics now sit at 30-22.
Fourth quarter, 2:08, Celtics lead 91-72: In the waning moments of this blowout, the Garden shows Doc Rivers' son, Austin, on the JumboTron. Despite the fact that he was wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers hat, he received a big ovation from the crowd. Austin is a likely first round draft pick in this year's upcoming NBA Draft.
Fourth quarter, 3:51, Celtics lead 89-68: These last few minutes are a mere formality as the Celtics will cruise to a relatively shocking win over the Miami Heat.
Greg Stiemsma fouled out and received a warm ovation from the crowd. The Boston defensive effort has really been the story of this game. The Celtics are holding Miami to just 36.1% shooting from the field.
Fourth quarter, 6:39, Celtics lead 89-60:
The TD Garden's wireless internet is not very awesome, so Conrad Kaczmarek is filling in for Ben while he works out the technical difficulties.
On the other hand, Rajon Rondo is very awesome. Rondo grabbed his 10th rebound to give him his fifth triple-double of the season. That number leads the entire NBA.
The Celtics lead by 23 points, so the starters may be getting some extended rest soon. Rondo has 16 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds to lead the Celtics.
End of third quarter, Celtics 80-56: Because of James and Wade's shot-blocking ability, many players elect to not even challenge the Heat near the hoop. Bradley is not one of those players.
The constantly moving guard attacked the hoop with cuts relentlessly, translating to easy baskets as the Celtics outscore the Heat 31-12 in the frame. Rondo worked up to 14 assists with only two turnovers, getting little-used swingman Sasha Pavlovic involved with an oop layup on the break.
Pavlovic has performed well on defense, drawing matchups with James and Wade.
Third quarter, 5:19, Celtics 65-52: Rondo has the Celtics cruising and the Heat need to find another solution than having Mario Chalmers check him. Rondo found Garnett for a reverse layup to push the Celtics' run to 16-8 to open the second half.
Rondo was up to nine assists and 14 points, although he was left rubbing his head after he was bumped by James while hitting a jumper.
Third quarter, 7:01, Celtics 59-50: Sometimes being a little smaller can be a benefit.
Bradley, standing all of 6-foot-2, beat Miami with backdoor layups twice, and both times James seemed to not even see him cutting.
Halftime, Celtics 49-44: Most teams try to slow down the Heat, who can win the running game with just about any team in the league. The Celtics did exactly the opposite in the first half, pushing the pace as they have throughout much of their recent success. This time, it resulted in more trips to the free throw line, not more field goal tries.
The Celtics attacked the hoop and got to the foul line 17 times in the first half, making 16. Their high volume of free throws made up for seven first-half turnovers.
The Good: Rajon Rondo was on his way to another triple-double, or at least numbers approaching one. He entered halftime with 10 points, six assists and six rebounds. … Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring with 12 points and also drew the tough defensive assignment on James. James tied Pierce for the game-high in points, but not all of them were against Pierce. Brandon Bass, Rondo and even Keyon Dooling spent plays covering James. … Shane Battier is almost peerless as a defender, but he struggled to find his outside shot for much of his first season with the Heat. He had no problems in the first half of this game, knocking down four of his five shots, including 2-for-3 from deep, for 11 points.
The Bad: Chris Bosh gets picked on too often, but his first half was truly one to forget. Bosh shot 2-for-7 for four points against Kevin Garnett's suffocating defense.
The So-so: Dwyane Wade owned an impressive first half stat line of 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots, but none of it was easy. Bradley hassled Wade into shooting 5-for-13 and picking up two fouls.
Second quarter, 2:26, Celtics 40-38: The Celtics' trips to the line, which have been rare, where a regular occurence as they went 11-for-12 from the stripe.
Their turnover difficulties, which is a change from how they have played of late, kept the Celtics from using their foul shot advantage to build a comfortable lead.
The Celtics and Heat each committed two turnovers in the first quarter, but the Celtics fumbled the ball away five times to just twice for the Heat in the first nine-plus minutes of the second quarter.
Second quarter, 6:05, Celtics 34-33: A team needs to be virtually flawless to beat the Heat, and for the first 17 minutes, the Celtics basically were perfect.
As soon as the Celtics turned sloppy, though, the Heat capitalized. Bradley and Pierce miscommunicated on a pass for the second time in the game, resulting in a turnover. Bass fumbled a defensive rebound out of bounds, and Pierce let Shane Battier throw the ball off his back to get an easy layup on the ensuing inbounds play. Finally, Rondo let Wade get inside position for a lob to score the layup that cut the Celtics' lead to one point.
The Celtics still do have some holes after all.
Second quarter, 9:04, Celtics 34-23: The Celtics opened the second quarter with a lineup that would seem to have struggle scoring. Instead Garnett, Stiemsma, Pavlovic, Bradley and Dooling actually added a point to the Celtics' lead.
Bradley knocked down a 3 as the shot clock expired and Dooling found Stiemsma on a backdoor layup to restore the Celtics' double-digit advantage. Stiemsma's defensive rotations, his biggest bugaboo as a pro, have been flawless, and Pavlovic held his own on his possessions matched up with James.
End of first quarter, Celtics 29-19: A double-digit lead did not prevent the Celtics from having some choice words for the officials in the first quarter. Greg Stiemsma, who does not complain for fouls often, and Paul Pierce, who does, each shared their thoughts with the referees.
Stiemsma picked off a pass and had a would-be layup, but he took some contact and missed. Stiemsma seemed fairly adament there should have been a tweet.
Pierce lost the ball on the next possession and shouted about an alleged foul by James.
Imagine the crowd's dismay moments later when Rondo appeared to nab the ball away from James, but was whistled for a defensive foul.
No amount of officiating could take away from Rondo's performance, though. Rondo was 4-for-5 from the field, including a 3-pointer, for 10 points, four assists and four rebounds.
First quarter, 2:43, Celtics 21-12: OK, the issues see to have been resolved (for now). As Conrad mentioned, Rondo has been all over the place, not only scoring but on the boards. The Celtics point guard is tied with Wade for a game-high four rebounds in the first nine minutes.
Bradley put Wade on ice for most of the first quarter, holding one of the top five players in the NBA scoreless as the Celtics built their lead to as many as 11 points on two free throws by Brandon Bass.
First quarter 4:20, Celtics lead 19-10: Rajon Rondo is still really good. He drained a three pointer and then made a dazzling move in the paint before hitting a wide open Paul Pierce for the three pointer. The Celtics have everything clicking so far.
First quarter 6:30, Celtics lead 13-6: Some technical difficulties from the Garden, so NESN intern Conrad Kaczmarek will take over.
Apparently, the Miami Heat left Rajon Rondo out of their scouting report today. That's a bold strategy. Rondo already has 7 points, 3 rebounds, and one assist. It's looking like he's a threat for a triple-double today.
2:55 p.m.: Allen will miss his sixth straight game with a sore right ankle and his status remains day-to-day.
Since Bradley became a starter, his abilities as a defender have not be challenged as much as as they are to be in this game against Wade. Wade is sixth in the NBA in scoring at 23.0 points per game, and he is a notch better than that on the road.
1:30 p.m.: There probably is no "good" time to meet the Heat, one of the most explosive teams in the NBA and possesser of the league's three best records. But this might be as good a time as any to draw the Heat away from home.
The Heat have lost six of their last nine road games, and were knotted 83-83 with the Raptors on Friday before running away with it in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics will have a huge advantage at point guard, where Norris Cole torched the Celtics for 20 points in the teams' first meeting but is averaging only 3.6 points since the All-Star break.
We await official word from Celtics coach Doc Rivers on the status of Ray Allen's sore right ankle, which has kept him out of the lineup for the last five games.
The probable starting lineups appear below.
8 a.m.: LeBron James and the Miami Heat visit the TD Garden on Sunday in what could be a first-round playoff preview.
The Heat (37-13) hold the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and as recently as three days ago were slated to meet the Celtics (29-22) in the opening round. The Celtics' move into the Atlantic Division lead changed that, and their success down the stretch will determine if that move was temporary or a permanent change in the power structure.
Ray Allen's status will again be watched closely as the shooting guard deals with a balky right ankle. Allen has missed the last five games, although he participated in the Celtics' last two shootarounds and was a gametime scratch Friday in Minnesota.
Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden beginning shortly before tip-off at 3:30 p.m.