BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics had an 18-point lead in the first half, but the Miami Heat still had a chance to win Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on the final shot in overtime.
But Dwyane Wade’s three-pointer with time expiring was no good, and the Celtics head to Miami with the series all tied at two games apiece.
For the Celtics, there may have been a little Garden magic at work.
“Red (Auerbach) wasn’t going to let that go in, you know that,” head coach Doc Rivers joked after the Celtics’ 93-91 win. “Not in the Boston Garden.”
“Words can’t even describe what kind of game it [was],” said Paul Pierce, who led the Celtics with 23 points despite fouling out in overtime. “It’s a funny game, you know, the way the ball bounces, the way things go. … I’m just glad I was on the winning side today.”
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Pierce had to watch the final attempt from the bench, as did Miami’s LeBron James, who also fouled out in OT. So that left Wade to take the potential game-winner, one Rivers thought was good as it left Wade’s hands.
“I thought it looked good when it left his hands,” Rivers said of Wade’s last-second attempt. “We told (Marquis Daniels to) watch the pump fake. But I thought what Marquis did was, on the pump fake, he jumped out-of-the-way, so he couldn’t draw a foul. Wade is the best, him and Paul, at doing that. So he got the first part — well, Wade did — but I thought avoiding of the foul was as big as anything else.”
“It was on-line,” Wade said of the shot. “It was all you can ask for. I got my legs on the middle and shot it, and it was on-line, it just decided it didn’t want to go in.”
Wade finished the evening with 20 points on 7-for-22 shooting.
With Pierce, Boston’s leading scorer, out for overtime, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo took it upon himself to rally the troops.
“I told Kevin (Garnett), ‘It’s time,'” Rondo said following the win. “We have to take the game over. I didn’t look at Ray and tell him, but he knew what time it was. At that particular time in the game, when your leading scorer goes out, you have to step up and make plays. And that’s what we did as a team.”
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Rondo had been controlling the game for Boston anyways, playing quarterback with some magnificent passes and consistently hitting his teardrop floater. He scored three of Boston’s four points in overtime and finished with 15 points, 15 assists and five rebounds.
It’s Rondo’s now-consistency that makes him great, says his head coach.
“He’s good. That’s what he is now when you think about it. He’s just a good basketball player; a great basketball player,” Rivers said of Rondo. “Now he’s consistent, and that’s when you cross the line; when you’re no longer inconsistent. He’s been just terrific for us.”
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The series now shifts back to Miami for Game 5 on Tuesday night. The Celtics are feeling good about themselves following the win, but they know they still have a lot of fight left.
A certain kind of fight, that is.
“We have a chance of winning this series. It’s not going to be easy,” said Pierce. “A good old, classic bar fight.”