MIAMI For a change, the Boston Celtics have not taken the path of greatest resistance, rallying for a critical 94-90 Game 5 victory over the Miami Heat.
With the win, Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can move on to the NBA Finals with a Game 6 win at the Garden on Thursday.
The final points of the night were scored by Kevin Garnett, who rebounded from a slow start to finish with a team-high 26 points.
Boston, which trailed by as many as 13 points, closed out the third quarter with a 15-1 run to lead, 65-60, going into the fourth.
The Celtics fell behind 78-72 in the fourth, but went on a 9-2 run sparked by a 3-pointer from Mickael Pietrus and capped off by a baseline jumper from Garnett with 2:54 to play.
Pietrus would come up with a slew of big shots for Boston, as he finished with 13 points off the bench.
Boston made all the plays down the stretch, a sharp contrast from how they began the game.
The Celtics struggled rebounding the ball in the first half, but their strong play defensively didn't allow the C's struggles on the boards to hurt them too badly.
That would not be the case in the fourth, as a Dwyane Wade rebound and uncontested put-back basket cut Boston's lead to 70-69 with 9:06 to play.
At the half, Boston trailed 29-20 on the boards and was out-rebounded, 49-39, for the game.
Despite their struggles, the C's were within striking distance, trailing just 42-40 at the half.
Even with a nine-rebound deficit, the Celtics were tied in second-chance points (10) with the Heat, and actually had more points in the paint (22-20). Even more bizarre was it was the Celtics, not the more athletic Heat, that had the edge in fast-break points (7-4).
Boston's dfense was what kept them in the game, as they forced Miami into committing 11 first-half turnovers that resulted in nine points.
Miami was led by LeBron James, whose 18 points came on 7-for-12 shooting. His one-man dominance of the game was reminiscent to what he did for so many years in Cleveland.
And in the role of Mo Williams was Wade, who had seven points at the half on 3-for-9 shooting in the first half. He finished with 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting.
Aside from James, the most important player for Miami was Chris Bosh who returned to the Heat lineup after missing the previous nine games with a abdominal strain injury. He came off the bench in the first half to score nine points to go with six rebounds. He would only grab one rebound in the second half and finished with nine points and seven rebounds.