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Sports Then and Now

Heat Knock Off Celtics to Reach Eastern Conference Finals

Posted on May 12, 2011 by Raj Prashad

Lebron James punctuated the series victory for the Heat over Paul Pierce and the Celtics.

For the last time in the 2011 NBA season, the Boston Celtics failed to close out a game they had in their grasps.

Lebron James and Dwayne Wade finally conquered their biggest test from the heavily stacked Eastern Conference Wednesday night in a 97-87 win over the Celtics to move forward to the Eastern Conference Finals series.

Lebron scored the final 10 points of the fourth quarter on his way to sending the veteran Boston team packing for the summer. While playing against the struggling Paul Pierce, five fouls entering the fourth quarter, James had space he normally wouldn’t to attack the rim and change direction at will. Pierce was forced to play off the athletic big man and allowed James to control the pace on the offensive end of the court en route to two consecutive dagger threes in the final minutes. Without their attacking captain, the C’s went scoreless for the last 4:15 of regulation as the Heat went on a 16-0 run to finish the original Boston Big 3 that has controlled the East for the last three years.

James had 33 points, seven boards, and four assists while Wade dropped in 34 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals to lead the team in scoring. Bosh finished the heavy scoring production for the Miami Big 3 with 14 points and 11 boards. Throughout the series the South Beach superstars accounted for just over 84 percent of the scoring, a phenomenal number for three players in a series.

The ageing and banged up Celtics just did not have the legs to keep up with the young and athletic Heat team. A team that could be characterized as having “all heart,” just didn’t have enough on this night. Rondo, playing basically with one arm, had six points in one of his worst outings of the playoffs. Backup guard, Delonte West, had an outstanding night and was on the floor in the final stretch of game five due to Rondo’s handicap play. West had 10 points off the bench and stood alongside Ray Allen, 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and Kevin Garnett, 12 points and 11 boards, as the time expired on the C’s season. Paul Pierce finished with 12 points and four assists despite facing foul trouble most of the game and series. Jeff Green, Pierce’s replacement in crunch time, had two key turnovers late in the game, but played a solid defensive game on Lebron James. Nenad Krstic, who was virtually invisible for the playoff stretch, played significant minutes as Jermaine O’Neal once again went down with a wrist injury that has plagued his season.

Despite the Celtics early exit to this season, ultimately the future looks bright for a young and upcoming core of talent.

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