The Miami Heat's tenth playoff victory of this postseason came the hard way in a thrilling 115-111 overtime victory over the resilient Boston Celtics. LeBron James led the way with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists but did not have an efficient night from the field going 7-for-20. The MVP went to the free throw line an astounding 24 times but did miss crucial free throws in the second half and a pair of them in the overtime period while the team as a whole didn't help their own cause by going a pitiful 66% from the FT line missing 16 free throws. LeBron made up for missing the final shot of regulation by tipping in a basket and then notched a fantastic assist for the easy Udonis Haslem dunk that began the final push in OT to win the game. When it was all said and done, the Heat made their largest comeback in playoff history after being down 15 points.
Dwyane Wade had an uneven night and scored his first basket just before halftime but took over the overtime period with 8 points while Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and especially Haslem all came through in key moments to lead a Heat comeback after the Celtics played a masterful first half but only came away with a seven point lead at the break. It would have been a bigger lead if it wasn't for the heroics of Chalmers who kept the Heat within striking distance. He scored 12 points in the second quarter alone, including a pair of three-pointers just before halftime. Haslem had a huge game with 13 critical points in a game similar to his performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Rajon Rondo was simply unstoppable for the entire game, literally. Playing every single minute of the game, including overtime, Rondo couldn't miss from the field or the free throw line despite never being known as a consistent shooter and only committed three turnovers despite being their primary ball-handler. He scored all of Boston's 12 points in the overtime period including a pair of three-pointers that managed to give his team a glimmer of hope until the final seconds. The Celtics needed each and every one of his 44 points but also got strong, bounce-back games from Paul Pierce (21 points) and Ray Allen (13 points), who finally was able to get going with his outside shot including a wide-open three pointer to tie the game late in regulation, to compliment Kevin Garnett - who carried the Celtics' offense in Game 1.
While the victory was well deserved and the team made their plays when it counted the most in overtime, the Heat allowed the visiting team to dictate the pace of the game from the outset to fall behind from a deficit that at one time was 15 points and could not turn it around until the second half. Even still, once the Heat finally was able to take the lead and appeared ready to blow the game wide open with a dominant third quarter as they had done in their current winning streak dating back to the Pacers series, the Celtics simply would not go away and clawed right back into the game to retake the lead. The final moments of regulation were some of the most intense sequences that the Heat have faced this postseason and the team will be better off in the end for getting tested so heavily by the Celtics.
The Heat are now just two victories away from their third trip to the NBA Finals but the Celtics will be tough to beat on their home floor. If the Heat can at least get the split up in Boston then they will be in prime position to close out the series in Game 5 in Miami. Plenty of work remains on this team that could use Chris Bosh now more than ever but yet still find ways to continue winning on their way to the championship round.