Heat close out Boston with strong finish in Game 5

MIAMI, FL - MAY 11: LeBron James of the Miami Heat makes a late 4th quarter dunk during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida.(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Considering their growing ‘reputation' for starting games slow, especially in this years playoffs, I got the impression that Miami was trying extra hard to get off to a quick start in this one.  Unfortunately, that led to a couple early turnovers and a not-so-great shot selection during the first few minutes.  It wasn't the best 1st quarter by Miami, scoring just 15 points and missing 5 of their 10 free throws, and they went into the 2nd trailing by 8.

The highlight of the opening quarter, and maybe of the series, was a circus shot by Dwyane Wade as he collected an offensive rebound while being fouled and still managed to toss it through the hoop.  It was ridiculous.  As for the Heat, they responded to the low scoring 1st quarter (as they usually do) with a nice 31 point 2nd, closing the gap from 8 to 2.

A back and forth 3rd quarter set us up for a close, down to the wire type of ending, which has worked in the Heat's favor during this series.  Every game that was close down the stretch Miami ended up on top, and tonight would be no different.  Boston didn't make it easy though, stretching their lead and keeping the Heat playing catch up for most of the quarter.

Though you never would have guessed it at the time, the Celtics final points of the season came with 4:28 left in the game on a long jumper by Nenad Krstic, putting them up by 6.  From that point on it was all Miami, as some would argue that the 3rd game in 5 nights was too much for the ‘older' Boston team to handle.  A James Jones triple woke up the crowd and got everything started.  It was followed up by Chris Bosh faking out Kevin Garnett and slamming the ball home to tie the game at 87.

After that it was the LeBron James show.  He scored the final 10 points for Miami, hitting a big 3 that put them up for good and then putting the exclamation point on the game by stealing a Delonte West pass and sending the fans into a frenzy with a nice slam dunk.  The Heat finished the game on a 16-0 run, going 6-of-8 from the field and 3-for-3 from downtown while Boston missed all 5 of their shots and turned the ball over twice. 

Now its time for Miami to play the waiting game as they are on to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the winner of the Bulls-Hawks series.  I don't think anyone out there was expecting this series to end so quickly, but as Heat fans have seen as the season has gone on, Miami has just gotten better and better.  Now it seems that they are starting to peak and the timing couldn't be more perfect.  Next stop...the 3rd round baby!

GAME NOTES

  • Chris Bosh picked up his second straight double double, finishing with 14 points and a team high 11 boards, including a few big ones down the stretch.  He was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line on a night where Miami was quite off on the freebies.
  • D-Wade led the Heat with 34 points, adding 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. 
  • LeBron was right behind him with 33 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.  He went 5-of-7 from downtown. 
  • The Big 3 combined to score 81 of Miami's 97 points and collected 28 of the teams 38 rebounds. 
  • As a team the Heat were pretty foul from the charity stripe, going 26-of-38 (68.4%)
  • Rajon Rondo deserves a lot of credit for playing through the pain the way he did, but it certainly affected the way he played.  He averaged 10.0 assists in Games 1-3 but dished out a total of 8 in Games 4 and 5.  He also sat out the entire 4th quarter last night. 
  • NBA.com video recap

Now its time to sit back and enjoy the series victory for a few days.  If the Bulls beat Atlanta on Thursday night then Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be Sunday night in Chicago.  If Atlanta forces a Game 7 then that will be Sunday night.  Stay tuned...

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