There is an ancient saying in the Association that states that an NBA Playoff series does not actually begin until a team wins a contest in their opponent’s arena. If that old bromide is indeed fact then the second round series between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics officially began on Monday night as the Heat topped the Celtics by a score of 98-90 in an overtime battle at the “New Garden” in Boston. With the victory for Miami they take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals with the chance to close the series out at home Wednesday night.
LeBron James who was accused of giving up against Boston last year in the Post Season when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers certainly enhanced his reputation in this game as the All-Star forward racked up a double-double including a game high 35 points and had some clutch offensive and defensive moments down the stretch for the Heat.
The Celtics would lead for most of the contest but key turnovers and an abysmal shot selection in the fourth as well as in the extra period would cost them the win at home. Paul Pierce knocked down 27 points while Rajon Rondo joined a group of Boston All-Stars who over the years did not allow injury to effect their performance in the Playoffs. The Celtics point guard who dislocated his left elbow in game three would be on the court for 38 minutes and scored 10 points. Boston forward Kevin Garnett who exploded in game three came up short in this game with just 7 points although he did grab 10 rebounds.
The Celtics would have the advantage at 31-28 at the end of the first as Pierce drove the lane putting the ball up and in with 24 seconds to play. Pierce would come up big once again with six seconds remaining in the second as he drained a mid-range jump shot. As the game reached the half Boston would be on top 53-50.
The Heat would grab the lead with 4:56 in the third as Dwyane Wade slammed the rock through the hole putting his team ahead 63-59. However the Celtics would get momentum back on their side in the closing moments and had the lead back at the end of the period with the score 73-69.
The tone of the contest would change radically at the beginning of the fourth quarter as James began to dominate and Boston suddenly lost their ability to score. The Celtics would muster just 13 points in 12 minutes of play as James and Wade kept coming up with clutch baskets. The two teams would be deadlocked at the end of regulation and Miami would start off the extra period by knocking down the first six points. Boston never seriously mounted a challenge and the Heat would take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
James recorded a double-double with 35 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Wade scored 28 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal while Chris Bosh put up 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had 2 steals in the victory.
Pierce scored 27 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal while Ray Allen added 17 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. Rondo had 10 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds while Delonte West came off the bench with 10 points, 3 steals, an assist and a rebound. In order for the Celtics to advance at this point they would have to win all three remaining games including two in Miami. The first of those games will be on Wednesday night as the action shifts to South Beach for game five.