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Miami Heat 101 - Boston Celtics 98: Dwyane Wade and company survive to play another day

Finally, a Miami Heat victory over the Boston Celtics after going 0-6 so far this season. Dwyane Wade was not going to get swept out of the first round if he had something to say about and carried his team to a 101-92 victory in Game 4 with a performance that recalled his 2006 glory with 46 points (5 of 7 three-point shooting) along with five assists and five rebounds. He continues a masterful series that has helped him continue a streak of 25+ points in seven playoff games dating from the 2009 playoffs, the longest current streak in the NBA. Everyone knew that Wade would have a monster game to stave off elimination but the Celtics have had prior success regardless. The key today for that breakthough was the inspired play from the Heat’s young core. Michael Beasley, Dorell Wright, Mario Chalmers and even Joel Anthony all had solid supporting roles while Jermaine O’Neal (2 points, 6 rebounds) and Carlos Arroyo (6 points, 1 assist) were left watching from the bench in the fourth quarter. In fact, Miami did well down the stretch with a lineup of Haslem, Anthony, Chalmers, Wright and Wade that featured four bench players. Beasley continued to grow from his improved play in Game 3, including a clutch put-back on an airball miss by Wright with 1:27 remaining in the game. Of the veterans, Udonis Haslem filled in for O'Neal quite adeptly while Quentin Richardson provided some much needed range with 20 points (4-6 on three pointers) and seven rebounds to give Wade the space he needed. The Celtics bench was a major factor in the loss. Despite all the efforts of their stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo the rest of the team simply didn’t come through. While Tony Allen and Michael Finley had a couple of moments here and there the inside duo of Kendrick Perkins (0 points, 1 field goal attempted, 8 rebounds) and Glen Davis (2 points, no field goals attempted, 1 rebound) had another lackluster game after all the good work they had put in during the first two games of the season. For the first time this series, the Celtics showed their age with Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley out there trying to keep up with Wade, Chalmers and Wright slashing at will to the basket with those two on the floor. Give the Celtics credit. Even a monster game from Wade giving all he had was not enough for this to be an easy game to put away by any stretch of the imagination. As they did in Game 3, the Celtics absorbed a hot start from the home team and kept it close during the first half while chipping the lead little by little. But the Heat bounced back when it looked like the Celtics had taken over the lead (and the momentum) at the end of the third quarter with some ridiculous three point shooting by Wade that almost included a four-point play at the hands of Ray Allen. Had it not been for some careless play in the first half resulting in plenty of Heat fast break opportunities that netted some easy baskets (not to mention some puzzling free throw misses by Allen at the end) and this game would have been even closer. Zero points by the Celtics in the final 2:35 of the game just isn't going to close out a playoff team on the road. It wasn't even for lack of opportunities for the Celtics with five free throws attempted and five field goals missing the mark. But the sobering reality is that the Heat can’t ask any more from Wade so it’s still going to be up to the rest of the team to get another victory, this time on the road in a hostile environment. It took this much from Wade in these last two home games to keep the Heat close and to just have a chance to win. Finally breaking the 100 point mark in the series was also a sign that the Heat offense was finally getting better looks at the basket after the Celtics defense had smothered them during the entire series. Now the big question still remains. Who will step up on the road other than Wade to give the Heat a fighting chance in this series? Based on the recent performance of the youngsters, coach Spoelstra may just have stumbled upon the key to beating the Celtics.