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The Boston Celtics continued to deny the media narrative of them being too “old-and-slow” throughout this postseason (and the last four), defeating the Miami Heat 94-90 on Tuesday to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Cs were aided by spectacular efforts from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. KG provided this veteran squad with 26 points and 11 rebounds to spark the Celtics’ victory. Paul Pierce opened the game slowly, missing several shots early in an attempt to find his rhythm. But in typical Celtics fashion, the Truth took over the third and fourth quarter, finishing the contest with 19 points on 6-19 shooting, including a back-breaking three over Lebron James with 56 seconds left to give the Celtics a pivotal two-possession edge.
But the Celtics contributions did not end there; Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus both chipped in 13 points apiece, while Brandon Bass added 10 points.
This game was never easy for Boston, as they battled and willed themselves from an early double-digit, first-quarter deficit. Boston at one point trailed 31-18 in the second, but adjusted their defense to slow down the Miami attack. The Celtics gained their first lead of the game with 42 seconds left in the third quarter, but still had to battle in the fourth to pull off the triumph.
The turning point of Game 5 happened halfway through the final frame with the Cs trailing 78-72 and possession of the ball. Brandon Bass’ dunk attempt was thunderously blocked by Dwayne Wade at the rim, but the ball careened to Rajon Rondo on the right ark, who flipped the ball one-handed to Pietrus in the corner, who subsequently banged a three to cut the deficit in half. The Celtics would close out the game on a 22-12 to clinch the victory.
Boston was the beneficiary of several “50/50″ loose balls throughout the night, including a pair in the fourth quarter that resulted in Mickael Pietrus made three-pointers. Boston appeared to garner possession of a majority of loose balls, which were vital in the Game 5 upset victory.
Rondo can do it all
While he may have gone 3-15 shooting for 7 points, Rondo’s court presence and ball distribution were a major difference. The Kentucky alum finished the game with 13 assists and six rebounds, along with four steals.
Despite a bevy of superstars in their arsenal, it appears that the Miami Heat lack that killer instinct to close out games. While Lebron James and Dwayne Wade filled their stats lines, 30-13-2 and 27-6-3 respectively, their teammates ultimately did not step up to support them. The much publicized return of Chris Bosh proved to be a flop, as the third member of the “Big 3″ totaled 9 points and -11 +/- in 14 minutes of action. The rest of the Heat team totaled just 24 points in the loss. On the other hand, Boston closed out by hitting their final eight free throws.
The Celtics will look to advance to their third NBA Finals appearance in five years on Thursday night, as they battle the Miami Heat in Game 6 at 8:30 at TD Garden in Boston, Mass.