By Mary Paoletti
Celtics vs. Heat: Drama at its most profitable.
It is Good vs. Evil, Old vs. New, Blue Collar vs. High Roller. It is Shaq Vs. himself.
It could end tonight.
Game 5 tips off in Miami at 7 p.m., and I have no idea who's going to win. It depends on which Green Team we see.
The difference between what the Celtics are capable of and what they have produced is bizarre. Ray Allen's career PPG average in the playoffs is 21.5. In Game 2, he was held to 7 points in 34 minutes.
You know what that number should be an answer for? How many triples did Ray drop on Miami? (Seven.) How many miles did Ray run for fun during halftime? (Seven.) How many times has LeBron James seen "He Got Game"? (Seven. In one day.)
Folks were ready to take Kevin Garnett behind the barn before the series opener even ended. When he got his first rebound in the next game, I applauded him the way you cheer a 98-year-old who remembers to use the potty instead of his pants. "Ohh, yay! You did it!" I clapped, sad smile tight on my face.
Then Game 3 hit the windshield.
Boston finally looked pissed off about losing and ready to do something about it. KG didn't look old, he looked vintage with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Rajon Rondo was nabbing steals and scoring layup despite having the functionality of a stroke victim. Even broken-down Shaq got buckets. (One. Just one bucket.)
And Miami laid down and bared its neck.
Chris Bosh went back to being comically useless, claiming his six-point, five-rebound performance was due to the "jitters."
It's one thing if Mario Chalmers feels anxious; he's 12. But Bosh has been playing through hangnails and whatnot for seven years. How do you claim jitters with a straight face?
"Hey, Rondo. You feeling jittery?"
"Naw. I don't feel jittery."
"But you got your arm ripped off."
"I don't feel pain. I'm gonna punk the Heat with my nub."
"Okie dokie, then."
But everything since Rondo's bravery has been forgettable.
Garnett went back to soiling himself (1-for-10 FG) in Game 4, and he wasn't alone. Passing was ugly. Glen Davis was -- in his own words-- "nowhere." Shaq might as well have been elsewhere (3 minutes and 31 seconds, zero points).
It was Miami who was supposed to be deflated. It was James who was supposed to choke. But the Heat stole Game 4 in overtime and may have taken Boston's will along with it.
Game 3 created reasonable doubt. It was the kind of game that reminded everyone why this is supposed to be such a great series in the first place. And it might be enough to give hope that the Celtics can drag things out as long as they need to.
Can Boston do it tonight?
It all depends on which Green Team shows up.