Celtics 112, Heat 106
Was there really any doubt about what would wind up in this slot? I think not.
After trailing by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Celtics used a huge surge down the stretch to give themselves a four-point lead after Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 53.1 seconds remaining in regulation. But after a Jermaine O'Neal hit a jumper and Dwyane Wade made two free throws, the game was knotted up with 5.5 seconds remaining.
Boston called a timeout and drew up one of their vaunted out of bounds plays, which succeed more often than not (there may or may not be more on that topic coming later...). Out of the timeout, the ball was inbounded to Allen just inside of half court. As he attempted to pivot and swing the ball to the right side of his body, with the intent of running the team's set play on the right side of the court, Allen lost control of the ball and Wade stole it away. He raced down the court in front of Allen and slammed home his 38th and 39th points with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock.
Miami led by two points with 0.6 seconds on the clock, and Boston was already without Rasheed Wallace (fouled out) and Kevin Garnett (out with injury), two of their biggest players that could slam home an alley-oop.
Game over, right?
Rivers called yet another timeout and pulled a trick out of his hat that the C's had previously practiced in Waltham. It was a misdirection play, where Rondo would deek the defense into thinking he was running a motion to the top of the key, then switch directions and sprint to the basket. The misdirection worked, and Paul Pierce threw an absolute strike to the rim that Rondo managed to tip in off of the glass as time expired.
The dramatic basket sent the game into overtime -- a game no Heat player could even fathom losing during that final Celtics timeout -- and all of the momentum was on Boston's side from there. They outscored Miami 11-5 in the overtime session, and wound up leaving Miami with a memorable 112-106 win.
Key Box Score Line
Is there anything this kid doesn't do? He scores the points. He dishes out the assists. He rebounds the basketball. Heck, he can even supplant your typical athletic big man and be the go-to alley-oop target with 0.6 seconds left on the clock in regulation and the team down by two.
Rondo was simply special tonight, leading the Celtics in points and leading the game in assists. He scored critical basket after critical basket down the stretch for Boston, and if anyone had any doubts about his hamstring's health, suffice to say that he squashed them with his performance tonight.
Box Score Nuggets
- At the end of regulation, Miami had taken 30 more field goal attempts than Boston.
- Miami had only 11 turnovers to Boston's 15.
- Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 44 points on 15-of-34 shooting.
- Boston outscored Miami 54-36 in the paint.
- Rasheed Wallace scored 16 points for the second consecutive game.
- Three Miami starters combined for 11 total points. Michael Beasley scored five points, Quentin Richardson scored four points and Carlos Arroyo scored two points.
- Kendrick Perkins scored 17 points in the first half, but finished with only 20.
- Tony Allen scored nine points off the bench for Boston, but no other bench player scored more than two.
- Three Celtics (Rondo with 25, Ray Allen with 22 and Perk with 20) broke the 20-point barrier.
- Paul Pierce recorded 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in his first game since Dec. 22.
Quote of the Night
Rajon Rondo on the game-tying alley-oop play to at the end of regulation: "It was a great pass, pretty much perfect. It was right in front of the rim; I just had to catch it and lay it in. He wanted me to dunk it but I didn't want to miss the dunk and lose the game."