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Fast Break: Kevin Garnett, Celtics tame Heat again

On 60.6 percent shooting, led by Kevin Garnett [1] (24 points, 9 rebounds), the Celtics [2] defeated the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seeded Heat 115-107 for the second time in nine days, taking a 2-1 series lead with one matchup left between the possible playoff opponents in the penultimate game of the season.

The Celtics (33-24) won their third straight and eighth of their last 10 games, moving within two games of the idle Pacers for third in the Eastern Conference. Paul Pierce [3] (26 points) and Rajon Rondo [4] (18 points, 15 assists) helped the C’s set a new season high for points scored.


Opening statement: When the first quarter came to a close, the top six Celtics rotation players all had between 4-6 points, handing the Heat a 33-22 deficit. The C’s shot 61.1 percent (11-18 FG) offensively, holding Miami to 42.9 percent (9-21 FG) defensively. Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was Boston’s 13-5 rebounding advantage after the first 12 minutes.

Three party: Taking advantage of a Heat defense that entered the game ranked 28th in 3-point defense, the Celtics converted 7-of-10 treys in the first half (9-14 for the game), establishing a 65-57 lead at the break on 61.5 percent shooting as a team. Pierce and Sasha Pavlovic [5] led the effort, each converting a pair of 3-pointers.

Two-guard duo: As for the Avery Bradley [6]/Ray Allen [7] shooting guard combination, the pair combined for 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 10 points in a first quarter that saw both the defensive-first Bradley lineup and the offensively boosted Allen group. Not only that, but they frustrated Dwyane Wade [8] to the tune of 20 points on 21 shots — lowlighted by a fourth-quarter technical foul after he fell for a Rondo fake 20 feet from the basket.


A king with no court: The favorite for this season’s NBA MVP honor, LeBron James [9] dominated in a losing effort. He amassed 36 points (11-23 FG, 13-14 FT), seven assists and seven rebounds, getting little help outside of Mario Chalmers [10] (18 points).

Heat stroke: The Celtics led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, but their torrid pace was impossible to maintain, making a pair of Heat runs to close the gap understandable. Wade started 7-of-10 from the field, scoring 16 early points and leading a 9-0 stretch that narrowed the C’s lead to 54-46 midway through the second quarter. After the Celtics built the lead back to 15, James capped an 11-4 run to close the half with a wide open 3-pointer on a defensive lapse. In all, Miami shot 13-for-22 and scored 35 second-quarter points.

Paint by numbers: It’s a good thing the Celtics shot so well, because the vast majority of their scoring came outside the paint. Meanwhile, Miami scored 52 points in that area, aided by 13 offensive rebounds.