3:30 PM ET, April 10, 2011
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
LeBron James' 27 help Heat overpower Celtics to stand alone in second
Pushing and shoving.
And maybe a Game 7 in Miami.
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"It was a playoff-atmosphere type of game, from the fans to both teams' approach to what the game meant," Wade said. "It had that feel."
Miami moved a game ahead of Boston, trimming its magic number to clinch the second seed to two. The teams will finish second and third in some order behind Chicago in the East, slotted to play in the conference semifinals.
"We'd like to play them, I can tell you that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "And we may have to if we want to go somewhere."
Chris Bosh added 13 points and eight rebounds for Miami, which had been 0-3 against Boston this season, though Heat coach Erik Spoelstra cautioned against overstating the win's importance.
"We proved we can beat them tonight," Spoelstra said. "That's about it, in my mind."
"What else do you expect? It's Boston-Miami," Garnett said. "Supposedly it's two of, if not the top two, teams in the East. You have to expect that. You have to expect that coming in here you're not going to get the call. You had to expect their passion -- a team you have beaten three times."
The Heat finally solved the Boston hex, beating the Celtics for the third time in the last 21 meetings. Bosh had been 1-13 against Boston since March 2007, and the Celtics ended both the 2009-10 seasons for Wade (in the first round) and James (in the second round).
Second Chances Good For Second Place
Miami grabbed sole possession of second place in the East by pounding Boston on the glass. A key for the Heat was limiting the Celtics' second-chance opportunities.
|Off Reb pct*||8.3||36.6|
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Miami won for the 13th time in its last 16 games, and its bench -- maligned for much of the season -- outscored Boston's 32-12.
"What worked for us today is, offensively we played together," Wade said.
"Frustration is high on our team right now," Rivers said.
Miami's role players were huge.
Mario Chalmers had nine points in the second quarter, when the Heat took the lead. Joel Anthony had eight rebounds in the first half, two less than the entire Boston roster. Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored six quick points early in the third as the Heat remained in control, and Anthony took advantage of a triple-team on James for a dunk and a 74-59 lead on the final play of the third quarter.
Of course, this being Celtics-Heat, nothing would come easily for Miami.
Down by 22, Boston ran off 12 straight points, Allen starting it with a four-point play, and Pierce adding both a 3-pointer and a three-point play to get the Celtics within 85-75.
It was the last gasp. Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 4:49 left, followed by Bosh's follow of James' miss, sent the lead back to 15.
"We built that lead by just keeping guys in front of us, contesting shots and flying around defensively," James said.
Boston scored the game's first eight points and hit eight of its first nine shots. The Celtics were making it seem easy, especially when Garnett -- who hadn't made a 3-pointer all season -- stepped into one from the left wing and connected for a 22-15 lead.
"It looked like the same old song," Spoelstra said.
It didn't stay that way. Boston went scoreless for the next 6:17, and Miami took the lead for good on the opening possession of the second quarter.
Tensions were already high, and emotions soon boiled over.
Jermaine O'Neal -- who had just been easily scored on by James 27 seconds earlier in transition -- tried to stop another drive by the two-time reigning MVP with a shoulder check with about 4 minutes left in the second, making no play on the ball.
A scrum quickly broke out under the basket. O'Neal earned a flagrant-1, James got a technical for throwing the ball back at O'Neal, Wade and Pierce also got technicals for some pushing and jostling, and a small amount of debris flew from the stands onto the court.
"I thought it was all theatrical, all the crap. I guess that's called toughness these days," Rivers said. "Two guys run into each other, we've got to call a flagrant foul, which I thought was a joke. And I thought the reactions by both were a joke."
Bosh earned another technical 2½ minutes later for arguing he tied up a loose ball with Rondo, only to have referees award Boston a timeout. But the Heat kept their composure, kept pouring it on after halftime, then turned their eyes toward road games that loom large at Atlanta on Monday and Toronto on Wednesday.
"This is cool and all," Bosh said, "but we still have two more games."
Bosh addressed the crowd before Miami's final home regular-season game, saying "We couldn't do it without you." ... Heat C Erick Dampier (rest and knee treatment) was inactive, and Miami only got seven minutes from Mike Miller, who left with a sprained left thumb -- not the one he broke near the start of the season. ... Rivers said G Carlos Arroyo -- who Miami waived earlier this season -- gave "us the entire Miami scouting report."
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||29-64 (.453)||38-75 (.507)|
|3PM-3PA||6-13 (.462)||6-18 (.333)|
|FTM-FTA||13-16 (.813)||18-26 (.692)|
|Fast Break Points||3||12|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (2/1)||17 (3/0)|
Next 5 Games
The Heat role players played a big part in the 23-point victory over the Celtics Sunday. Eleven players logged minutes for the Heat, and all 11 scored, with the non-"Big 3" shooting 50.0 percent (18-of-36) from the field. With Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers at the point, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade brought the ball up the court on 31.7 percent of all Heat possessions, which helped allow more players to get involved. The Heat had 104 possessions altogether (plays ending in a field-goal attempt, turnover or trip to the free-throw line), and James, Wade and Chris Bosh each had a touch on only three. The Heat turned the ball over twice on such possessions and missed their only shot.
ESPN Stats & Information