Celtics are too old? More like too good.


Celtics are too old? More like too good.

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- A week ago, the Boston Celtics were too old. Three games later, they're one win away from the NBA finals. And Miami -- the team that was constructed with hopes of supplanting Boston as the power in the Eastern Conference -- is suddenly in big trouble. Kevin Garnett finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 19 -- including a huge 3-pointer over LeBron James' outstretched arm with 52.9 seconds left -- and the Celtics beat the Heat 94-90 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in the East finals that now shift to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday night. "We've done nothing," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We're playing a heck of a basketball team. So just because we're going to Boston, I told them, we have to play. They're not going to give it to us. We have to go get it." James finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, though he went 8 minutes without scoring in the final quarter. Dwyane Wade scored 27 for the Heat, who got no more than nine from anyone else. "We wouldn't want to be in this situation but we never get too high or too low in a series," James said. "We had an opportunity to come home and take a lead, but we didn't. So we have to go up to Boston and win a game." Pierce's 3 put Boston up 90-86. Miami got within two points twice, and argued that it should have had a steal with 8.8 seconds left. Instead, a foul was called on Udonis Haslem, Garnett made two free throws, and the Celtics knew they had just stolen one on Miami's home floor. Now all they need is one home win of their own to clinch a trip to either Oklahoma City or San Antonio for Game 1 of the NBA finals. The title series starts June 12. "Right now," Celtics guard Ray Allen said, "the next game is Game 7." The Celtics were down by 13 points in the second quarter, then down nine in the third, and answered both times -- prevailing on a night where they shot just 41 percent, and got outrebounded 49-39. "We stayed with it," Garnett said. "We had a rough first quarter, first half. We got our stops and made our run ourselves. And when we had to, we had stops." Allen and Mickael Pietrus scored 13 apiece for the Celtics, who got 10 from Brandon Bass. Pietrus hit two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for Boston, which remained perfect with this core when facing maybe the most pivotal situation a best-of-seven can offer -- a Game 5 with a series tied 2-2. Pierce, Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are now 9-0 in that scenario. "We came in with the right focus," Pierce said. "That was key for us." So Game 5s are magical for Boston. Sometimes, they are for James as well. And sometimes -- this one included -- they're not. James' most memorable moments have come in Game 5s, like the epic 48 points where he just carried Cleveland on every possession down the stretch at Detroit in 2007, and the 120-88 loss to the Celtics in 2010, his last home game with the Cavaliers. This one offered more theater, of course. James hit a 3-pointer to give Miami a two-point lead with 8:10 left, closed out on Pierce to force an airball on the next possession, and eventually Miami pushed the margin out to 78-72 on a layup by Wade with 6:17 to play. On that play, James looked gassed, gasping for air as he stood near the baseline. Those might have been the last gasps the Miami home crowd sees this season. Boston closed on a 22-12 run. "Every time we got them down, they made runs," James said. "They made us stagnant offensively, got stops and got back in the game." Boston tied the game twice early in the third quarter, before Miami peeled off nine straight points to go up 59-50. Four players scored for the Heat during that quick burst, highlighted by Shane Battier's corner 3-pointer and a lazy turnover from Rondo, who threw the ball into the backcourt without being pressured by any Miami defender. But just as they did in the first half when Miami looked poised to pull away, the Celtics rallied -- and then some. A 15-1 run gave the Celtics a truckload of momentum and 65-60 lead going into the fourth, capped by Keyon Dooling connecting on a 3-pointer from near the Miami bench with 2 seconds left. There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter, and the game was tied for the final time when Wade made an acrobatic layup with 1:39 to play. Miami never led again. "We played hard," Battier said. "We just didn't play intelligent." Miami didn't lead by more than eight points at any time in the three previous games of the series. The Heat changed that quickly, and maybe it was fitting that Chris Bosh got them their first double-digit advantage since Game 1. Bosh came off the bench for his first minutes since straining a lower abdominal muscle in Game 1 of Miami's second-round series against Indiana. His three-point play with 1:17 left in the opening quarter -- punctuated with a stare-down for some cheering fans -- capped a 24-13 Miami run to open the game. James made a 3-pointer with 9:39 left in the half, and the Heat went up 31-18. The Celtics did what Miami did to them in Games 3 and 4 at Boston. They started chipping away. Miami missed 15 of its final 17 shots of the first half, with four turnovers thrown in there as well, and the Celtics took advantage. After James' 3-pointer, Boston outscored Miami 22-11 to close the second quarter -- Garnett got six of his eight first-half points in the final 3:09 -- and the once-sizable Heat lead was down to 42-40 by intermission. "We just told our guys, Hang in there, just hang in there, don't overreact,'" Rivers said. "The longer we're in the game, the better we'll play." That was the way Game 5 went. And the series has gone the same way. NOTES: Dorell Wright, a member of the 2006 Heat championship team and now with Golden State, was in attendance. A denim-vested Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks -- Miami's first-round playoff foe -- was seated courtside, and former Celtic Glen Davis was near the Boston bench. ... Wade scored seven points in the first 4:22 of the game. He didn't score again in the first half, and after scoring 26 points by halftime of the series-clincher against Indiana, he has 29 points in five first halves against Boston in this series. ... Pierce said before the game that he does not expect to need offseason surgery to repair the sprained MCL in his left knee. "No complaints," Pierce said.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Pacers on Saturday on CSN

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Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Pacers on Saturday on CSN

Watch as the Bulls square off against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.


1. What happens when the 3s stop falling? OK, perhaps the Bulls will be a better 3-point shooting team than we originally expected, though one game is not a large enough sample size to come to that conclusion. The real question is what happens when the triples stop going in. The Bulls were able to sneak by the Celtics thanks to their barrage of makes from downtown, but they also shot just 37 percent on 2-point field goal attempts. They'll need to be much more efficient to counter a high-powered Pacers offense.

2. A re-do for Rondo: In his first game with the Bulls, Rajon Rondo came out on fire, tallying five assists in the first quarter to help his team to a 30-point stanza. But he was largely ineffective the remainder of the game, going just 1-for-9 and struggling to contain Isaiah Thomas (25 points on 10-for-15 shooting). An uptempo game like the one he'll play in against the Pacers is right up his alley, so expect him to bounce back with a double-digit assist game.

3. Who guards Paul George if Jimmy Butler needs a breather? It's a safe bet that Jimmy Butler will be locked on to Paul George for most of the night. But if Butler gets into foul trouble or needs a breather at some point, the Bulls will need to find a second defender to shut down the Pacers' top performer. With Tony Snell out of the picture, that player could be Dwyane Wade, or even Denzel Valentine (who didn't see the court Thursday). 

4. Can the bigs continue to stay that way? Lost in Wade's late-game heroics was the fantastic performance from the Bulls' big men. Chicago outrebounded a good Celtics team by 19, with Robin Lopez (eight rebounds), Taj Gibson (10) and Nikola Mirotic (9) all contributing. They'll safe a stiff test in sophomore center Myles Turner and new face Thaddeus Young on the interior, providing another good test for Fred Hoiberg's frontcourt. It could be the difference in the game.

5. What will D-Wade do for an encore? The hometown kid had a rousing performance in his debut with the Bulls, going for 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. It's Jimmy Butler's team, and Rondo will initiate the offense, but Wade seemed to make the Bulls' offense hum. He also played some point with the second unit. He'd love to parlay his performance Thursday into another good one against a division rival and likely playoff team.

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Previewing first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Previewing first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is at Wrigley Field to preview the first World Series game on the Northside since 1945. 

Kap is joined by David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Jesse Rogers (ESPN Chicago) to discuss the keys to Game 3. Later, former Cubs' players Mark DeRosa, Ryne Sandberg and Todd Hollandsworth stop by to talk about what this night means to Chicago. Joe Torre and Bob Costas (NBC) also drop in to give their thoughts on the historic night. 

Check out the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: