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First Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Heat

04.25.10 at 1:36 pm ET
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The Celtics committed nine turnovers and turned the first quarter over to the Heat. They trail 18-31 after 12 minutes.

The Heat scored 16 points off of Celtics turnovers, the C’s first quarter total until Rajon Rondo scored a layup as time expired. Kevin Garnett hit the first basket of the game before the Heat went on a 10-0 run. Later in the quarter, they went on another 14-0 run.

Dwyane Wade and Quentin Richardson combined for 27 points as the Heat shot 56.5 percent from the field. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with six points.

Rebounding is key for Celtics

04.25.10 at 12:55 pm ET
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MIAMI — If there has been one change from the regular season Celtics to the playoff Celtics it has been their improvement on the glass. The Celtics dominated the Heat in Game 2 on the boards, and while they backslid in the first half of Game 3, their second half rebounding was a big key in getting the win.

“Going into the playoffs you would say the one point of emphasis over everything has been rebounding,” Doc Rivers said. “It’€™s all we talk about. We showed rebounding on film yesterday. It’€™s been very important to us.”

The Celtics have also done better on the offensive glass, an area where they struggled this season and for good reason. It’s not part of their gameplan.

“We don’€™t focus hard on offeneive rebounds,” Rivers said. “If you’€™re under there and you can get it, then you get it. Honestly, we’€™d rather for you to get back on defense so they can’€™t score in transition. The fact that were’€™re getting them is good. Numbers suggest that if you take away transition baskets you’€™ll save more points than you will get by rtying to get offensive rebounds.”

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Heat coach: Wade is going to go

04.25.10 at 11:31 am ET
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MIAMI — Not that there was much mystery, but Miami coach Erik Spoelstra indicated that Dwyane Wade is good to go for Game 4. Wade suffered painful crams in his left leg at the end of Game 3 and was not on the floor for Paul Pierce’s buzzer beater.

“He’s going to go,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know if he’s 100 percent, but he feels much better. He’s been cleared. I know one thing. He was not going to miss a minute of this game.”

Spoelstra was asked if he would have to limit Wade’s minutes and he laughed.

“We’ll try to be smart with it, but you try to pace him,” he said. “I’m sure if I try to take him out of the game he’ll be spitting expletives at me.”

Spoelstra also addressed his team’s mindset heading into a possible elimination game. The Heat have played the Celtics six times this season (counting the regular season) and have lost all six. But there is hope in the fact that they have had the lead in five of those games in the fourth quarter.

“At some point there has to be a breakthrough,” Spoelstra said. “This is not about the other games. This is about today.”

Read More: Dwyane Wade, Heat,

Rivers on Rondo: He’s been our Varitek

04.24.10 at 5:13 pm ET
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MIAMI — Lost in the dramatics of Paul Pierce’s game-winner, Ray Allen’s Game 2 explosion and even Tony Allen’s brilliant defense on Dwyane Wade in Game 1 has been the stellar play of Rajon Rondo.

Through three games Rondo has averaged just 11.7 points, but that never tells the full story with him. He’s also getting 10 assists a nights and 6.3 rebounds, but again, numbers can’t define Rondo.

Rather, it’s been his ability to run the offense for over 40 minutes a night that has been the catalyst for the Celtics offensive execution.

“He’€™s been terrific,” Doc Rivers said. “When everyone was injured, literally, Rondo had to do a lot of scoring. But since Ray and Paul and Kevin [Garnett] are back and in rhythm, he’€™s more of the facilitator. But he does the best job of a guy you could ask to do it. He’€™s been huge in this series.”

Take the closing minute of Game 3. On the possession before Pierce’s jumper, Rondo had two options at his disposal: Allen coming off a flare screen with Garnett, or Pierce on the opposite side. He chose Allen for a corner 3 and it was a great look, it just didn’t go in.

Heat coach Erik Spolestra had some media people shaking their heads after Game 3 when he said that the reason the Celtics were so tough to defend is because they have so many crunch-time options. In other words, didn’t he know the final play was going to Pierce? Well, no. He didn’t. See the previous possession.

It’s that decision-making that has lifted Rondo’s game into the upper stratosphere of elite point guards.

“He’€™s light years [ahead of where he was], but a lot of that is just age, maturity,” Rivers said. “The other part of it is system. He’€™s been in the same system his entire career. I thought Game 3 was the best play-calling game in his career. He was like [Jason] Varitek as far as calling the right pitch. He was phenomenal. That’€™s where he’€™s improved. He know what I’€™m thinking. He’€™ll call a play and you can sit down and it’€™s terrific.”

Read More: Jason Varitek, Rajon Rondo,

Pierce: It’s a must win

04.24.10 at 4:58 pm ET
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MIAMI — The Celtics elected not to hold practice Saturday afternoon after taking Game 3 from Miami on a dramatic buzzer-beater by Paul Pierce to take a 3-0 lead in their series, but don’t mistake that for over-confidence.

“I’€™m looking at it like it’€™s a 3-3 tie,” Pierce said. “It’€™s a must game for us. We want to be desperate for this win. We don’€™t want them coming back to Boston with any kind of confidence. You never know what can happen in this league. They’€™ve got a great player in [Dwyane] Wade and a team that played well down the stretch”

Ray Allen equated it to running a marathon.

“You don’€™t win anything if you get four in the first round,” he said. “Winning three games doesn’€™t mean anything either. You can’€™t go around and be fuzzy because you’€™ve won a couple of game. We have to make sure that we follow through because it is a process. It’€™s like running a marathon. You’€™re not done until you cross the finish line. So we have a finish line and we have to cross it.”

Kevin Garnett was asked if winning this series would give the Celtics some momentum going forward. Predictably, he did not bite.

“At this point right now, man, we’€™re focused on the Heat,” Garnett said. “We’€™re not looking past this game. I’€™m not even going to indulge in any of that conversation. The focus right now is trying to win this game in Miami.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen,

Wade suffers cramp

04.24.10 at 12:23 am ET
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MIAMI — Heat star Dwyane Wade suffered a cramp in his left leg and wasn’t on the court for Paul Pierce’s game-winner. That was about the only thing Wade wasn’t involved in for the Heat in their 100-98 Game 3 loss.

He played 43 minutes and scored 34 points on 26 shots, but late in the game he started to feel the effects of all his work. The good news for the Heat is that he should be ready to play in Game 4 Sunday.

“He just willed himself to continue to play all the way through to the end,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Right now it’s just a cramp and he’s getting fluids. It should be something we can work out.”

With the score tied at 98, Wade pulled up for a 3-pointer instead of attacking the basket.

“It limited me in the last five minutes,” Wade said. “I wanted to attack and be more aggressive, but I knew that’s how it would have ended up. I had nothing. I was trying to fight through it and pass to my teammates. They hit some big shots, but it was very unfortunate. The basketball gods were with them on that one because I wasn’t able to put pressure on them at the end like I wanted to.”

Although Wade wasn’t on the floor for the final play, he wasn’t far from the Celtics thoughts. Doc Rivers planned specifically to keep the ball in Pierce’s hands, far away from Wade.

“We learned that lesson the last time we were in Miami,” Rivers said. “You don’€™t fool around with Wade. He tends to steal it and go for layups.”

That was a reference to a regular season game when Wade stripped Ray Allen at the top of the key and went in for two points late in the game. The Celtics were able to rally to tie the game and went on to win it in overtime.

Read More: Dwyane Wade,

Fast Break: Celtics – Heat

04.23.10 at 10:03 pm ET
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There was nothing Dwyane Wade could do to stop it. Just seconds earlier, he had to be helped off the court after falling to the ground grabbing his knee following a 3-point attempt. As he sat on the sidelines, Paul Pierce ran the clock down, patiently waiting, and struck just as time expired. Pierce drained the game-winning buzzer-beater to give the Celtics a 100-98 victory and a commanding 3-0 series lead.

First Quarter: Wade scored 15 points (6-9 FG, 3-3 FT) in the first quarter alone to give the Heat a 29-27 lead over the Celtics. Although the C’s trailed, they fought a more balanced attack. Paul Pierce led the team with 9 points, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen had six apiece, and Kevin Garnett scored four. Defensively, Tony Allen, who contained Wade so well in Game 1, played just one minute during Wade’€™s performance in the first. The C’€™s were also outrebounded, 12-9.

Second Quarter: The first quarter was all Wade. In the second, he finally got some help. The Celtics jumped out on a 10-0 run over three minutes with Rondo leading the surge (he finished the half with a team-high 13 points).  But Quentin Richardson stopped the damage with a 3-pointer and the Heat began their comeback. The Celtics were then outscored 15-7 and trailed, 49-48, at halftime. Wade went scoreless in seven minutes in the second, but the Heat’€™s bench outscored the Celtics reserves 23-6 in the first half to give them the edge.

Third Quarter: The Heat had the edge in the first two quarters, but the Celtics claimed the third. The C’€™s outscored the Heat, 32-23, to take a 80-72 lead going into the fourth. The Celtics went on an 11-2 run in the final 1:39, which was capped off with 3-pointer from Pierce with 1.7 seconds to go. The Celtics turnaround has been a team effort ‘€” Allen (22 points), Pierce (21 points), Rondo (15 points), Garnett (12 points). Wade scored 13 in the quarter to lead all players with 28 points.

Fourth Quarter: The Celtics looked to put the game away as they got up by nine points. But it was Michael Beasley – not Wade – who dominated the fourth and got the Heat thisclose to a win. Beasley, who has struggled throughout the series, scored eight points in the fourth after scoring just eight in the first three quarters. The Heat went on a 16-6 run to reclaim the lead and the victory remained up for grabs until the very last second, literally.

Player of the Game: Pierce exemplified the meaning of a team captain and put the Celtics on his shoulders to hit the game-winning shot as time expired. He led the C’s with 32 points (11-23 FG, 4-10 3PG, 6-8 FT).

Turning Point: In what could be the turning point of the series, Wade injured his knee on a 3-point attempt. He fell to the ground and had to be helped off the court with 13 seconds left. There is no saying whether or not his presence on the court could have prevented Pierce from nailing the game-winner, but the potential of his injury has a major impact on Game 4 as the Heat face elimination on Sunday.

Up Next: The Celtics will fight to sweep the series on Sunday at 1pm in Game 4.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, Paul Pierce
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