Fast Break: Truth is, Celtics one win from NBA finals
|06.05.12 at 11:29 pm ET|
Shooting just 5-of-18 from the field through the first 47:07.1 of Game 5 and his Celtics leading by just one, Paul Pierce pulled up for a trey in Heat superstar LeBron James‘ face with 52.9 seconds remaining, and The Truth’s shot was true, giving the Celtics a four-point lead that resulted in a 94-90 victory.
In a frenzied fourth quarter that featured four lead changes, two ties and countless great plays on both sides, Pierce’s triple was the greatest, effectively giving the Celtics a 3-2 lead over the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals with Game 6 in Boston on Thursday night.
Somehow, someway, the C’s Big Four of Kevin Garnett (26 points, 11 rebounds), Pierce (19 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), Rajon Rondo (13 points, 13 assists, 6 rebounds) and Ray Allen (13 points, 7 rebounds) — despite shooting 40.7 percent from the field — outshined the Heat’s Big Three of James (30 points, 13 rebounds), Dwyane Wade (27 points) and the ghost of Chris Bosh (9 points, 14 minutes).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Third dimension: Over the final six minutes of the third quarter, the Celtics turned a 59-50 deficit into a 65-60 lead entering the fourth. The 15-1 run included buckets from Allen, Pierce, Greg Stiemsma, Garnett, Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling — not to mention great defense by all, holding the Heat without a field goal.
Garnett gets going: After trailing by as much as 13 in the second quarter, the Celtics made a concerted effort to go back to what’s worked throughout these playoffs — getting Garnett involved in the post. His 1-of-7 start from the field was mostly the result of shots off the block, but he took advantage of a legless Bosh, and Rondo fed him for a couple late layups that helped the Celtics cut the Heat lead to 42-40 by the half.
Free Bassing: While Pierce and Rondo started a combined 3-of-18 from the field, the Celtics desperately needed offense elsewhere. Enter Brandon Bass. It wasn’t quite his 27-point masterpiece against the 76ers, but Bass started 4-of-5 from the field for 10 points to go along with three rebounds, two steals and a block by halftime. He didn’t make a big impact in the second half, but he kept the C’s in it early.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Playing from behind: During a 3:59 stretch in the first quarter, the Celtics failed to score and fell behind 16-9. Starting 4-of-17 from the floor, they trailed the entire opening 12 minutes. The Heat can score in bunches, and the C’s toyed with fire early, as small deficits can balloon quickly against James and Wade. Still, despite shooting 33.3 percent in the first half, the Celtics hung around, eventually snaring leads in the third and fourth quarters.
Like a Bosh: While Bosh clearly didn’t have his wind, he gave the Heat and the arena a lift when he entered the game for Udonis Haslem 6:55 into the first quarter. With a turnaround bank shot against Stiemsma as well as an and-1 spin move in the lane against Garnett, Bosh gave Miami both bench scoring and an inside presence that they didn’t have in Games 1-4.
Rondo’s elbow: Diving for a loose ball in the first quarter, Rondo appeared to tweak the same left elbow that limited him to one arm in the Heat series a season ago. He left the first quarter with 2:04 remaining, mainly because he had already picked up a pair of fouls, but he iced the elbow on the bench. It didn’t appear to bother him in the second quarter, when he made a remarkable one-handed put-back with his left. Obviously, any blow to Rondo would be devastating, and the Celtics seemed to survive the scare, even if Rondo wasn’t at his finest.