Celtics upset Heat in Game 5, can close series Thursday

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Celtics upset Heat in Game 5, can close series Thursday

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.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Heat at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”