Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 87, Heat 97
Celtics 87, Heat 97
If déjà vu truly does exist, tonight’s Game 5 in Miami was the epitome of it.
We all saw Game 4 in Boston, where the Celtics controlled the contest for nearly the duration of regulation and then squandered the critical win away with poor execution down the stretch. The same script played out tonight in Miami, where the Celtics faltered when the game was in the balance, and the Heat did not.
The Celtics led at the end of each of the first three quarters, and held onto a six-point advantage with 4:29 remaining in the contest. But much like Monday night’s Game 4, in which the C’s led by as many as five points in the final frame, the game was handed over to the Heat with several key mistakes.
Boston committed five turnovers in the fourth quarter that led to 10 points for Miami. Three of those turnovers came in the final minute, when the game was on the line, and LeBron James took advantage by scoring the final seven points of the game off of those turnovers.
But before we detail that closing stretch, we must first acknowledge the dagger of a 3 that James hit at nearly the exact same stage of Game 5 as he did in Game 4.
On Monday night, Ray Allen had just put Boston ahead by three points with less than three minutes remaining by hitting a trey from directly in front of Miami’s bench. On Miami’s next possession, with the crowd roaring, James rose up and hit his own 3-pointer to tie the game back up, and the Heat controlled the contest from that point on.
Tonight, the setting was slightly different, but the result was exactly the same. The game was tied at 87-87 and Dwyane Wade handled the ball on the left wing but had nowhere to go. He jumped into the air but knew he had to pass the ball of, and he did so by dropping the ball off to James, who stood behind the 3-point line just a few feet to Wade’s left. James caught the ball, and with the shot clock set to expire, was forced to fire up another critical 3 over the outstretched arm of Paul Pierce.
Monday’s enormous long-range shot by James fell through the hoop with two minutes remaining in the contest. This one, which was a no-doubter as well, added three points to Miami’s total with 2:10 remaining.
That shot gave the Heat a 90-87 advantage, and it broke the Celtics’ back. Boston did nothing but turn the ball over and miss shots from that point on.
The first turnover came from Pierce, who was trying to pass across court to Jeff Green, with 1:02 remaining in the game. At that point, the Celtics were most definitely alive, with Miami still leading with that 90-87 score.
On Miami’s ensuing possession, James hit yet another end-of-shot-clock 3 to double his team’s lead up to six and essentially end the Celtics’ season.
Boston called a timeout to draw up a play, but that play was nullified when Delonte West turned the ball over just four seconds after the ball was inbounded. James was the man who stole the pass from West, and he took advantage yet again by throwing down a fast break dunk with 34 seconds remaining.
Miami’s final basket of the game came via a runner by James after West was called for a phantom offensive foul - there were plenty of phantom calls and no-calls in this game - at the other end of the court. That make by James gave him the final 10 points of the game, and Miami closed the night with a 16-0 run overall.
It was a different set, with a different crowd and several different variables in place, but the scene was exactly the same: Boston fumbling away its lead, and James hitting big shot after big shot to seal the deal for Miami.
The Celtics will now head into the summer knowing that they controlled nearly all of the final two games of their season, but their inability to perform in the final minutes of those games resulted in two crushing, and season-ending, losses.
Key Box Score Line
In the final game of the season, the last thing we’d want to do is list an opponent in this section. But with no one in particular stepping up for the Celtics for a full 48 minutes, Dwyane Wade wound up shining the brightest.
His co-star, LeBron James, played the role of closer tonight for the second straight game. If we are equating these players’ roles to a baseball pitching staff, then Wade was the dominant starter who handed over a scoreless game to his teammate in the final innings.
Wade shined as bright as he ever has in Game 5 by making 13 of his 19 shot attempts en route to a game-high 34 points. He could’ve easily gone for 40 points tonight had he not struggled from the free-throw line, where he made only eight of his game-high 15 attempts.
On top of the scoring, he also provided a punch in nearly every other statistical category. He grabbed 10 rebounds and tallied a game-high five assists. At the defensive end, Wade grabbed a game-high four steals, which was double that of any Celtic player’s total. Despite handling the ball nearly all night long, he committed only three turnovers.
While his teammates were sleeping in the first half, Wade was literally the only reason why Boston didn’t run away with this game. The Celtics led by three points at halftime, and if it wasn’t for Wade’s 23 first-half points, this series may have been scheduled to go back to Boston for a Game 6 by the time these players reached the locker room for the break.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics committed 17 turnovers that led to 22 points for Miami.
- Miami attempted 38 free throws to Boston's total of 20.
- Dwyane Wade (34 points) and LeBron James (33 points) led the game in scoring.
- Ray Allen led the Celtics with 18 points.
- Kevin Garnett was the only Celtics player to grab more than three rebounds, as he finished tied for the game high with 11.
- Wade attempted a game-high 15 free throws but made only eight of them.
- Boston's bench played fantastic and outscored Miami's reserves by a count of 33-12.
- The Celtics scored only 30 points in the paint and grabbed only 30 rebounds.
- Miami outscored Boston 12-2 in fast break points.
- Garnett, with his 11 rebounds and 15 points, was the only Celtic to notch a double-double.
- Miami had two players record double-doubles, with Wade scoring his 34 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, and Chris Bosh notching 14 points and 11 rebounds.
- Nenad Krstic came off the bench to play well and finished with eight points, two rebounds and two blocked shots.
- James committed a game-high five turnovers.
- Wade's five assists were a game high.
- James shot 5-of-7 from downtown.
- Miami's bench combined to shoot just 3-of-15 from the field.
- Garnett was the only Celtic to attempt more than three free throws, as he attempted eight.
- Meanwhile, four Heat players attempted at least six free throws.
- Both teams made seven 3-pointers, and Boston made one more field goal overall.
- Each team's largest lead was 10 points.
- After scoring at least 24 points in each of the first three quarters, the Celtics scored only 14 in the final period.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on leaning toward returning to coach the Celtics next season: "I’m leaning heavily to coming back [to coach the Boston Celtics]. I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will. I’ve kind of come to that over the last couple of weeks. I’m a Celtic and I love our guys."