Fast Breaks: Celtics-Heat, Game 4
One of the NBA's top five players, Dwyane Wade starred at both ends of the court
After losing an 18-point lead to Boston, Miami bounced back when Wade got hot
Boston had a late chance to steal this game but missed four straight free throws
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade apparently wasn't ready for the season to be over. Wade, playing in what conceivably could have been his final game with the Heat, scored a scintillating 46 points to give the Heat a 101-92 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon. This is how Miami extended the series to a fifth game.
Wade would not let his team lose. One of the five best players in the league, Wade was sensational from start to finish on both ends of the court. Wade finished Game 3 on Miami's bench after suffering a cramp in his left leg that prevented him from having a chance to help defend Paul Pierce's buzzer-beating game-winner. He showed no ill effects from the injury, however; his quickness and explosiveness were on display as he got around Ray Allen, knifed into Boston's interior and finished with power. Wade also had it going from the outside, hitting four fourth-quarter 3s, five in all and putting together one of the more memorable postseason performances. Overall, Wade made 16-of-24 shots, and had five rebounds and five assists. His game would have been even more impressive had he not missed five free throws.
Miami showed great resilience. The Heat took an early 18-point lead when the Celtics turned over the ball nine times in the first quarter, mostly on careless passes against Miami's zone. The Heat then allowed the Celts to walk them down over the course of the next two periods. They looked dead when Boston took a seven-point lead, a 25-point turnaround. That's when Wade got hot, improbably shifting the momentum back to Miami and putting them back up by 11. It was almost as if there were three games within this one game.
Boston missed four straight free throws. The Celtics had a chance to steal the victory late in the fourth quarter when they cut Miami's lead to four at 98-94, with the chance to get to two. But Ray Allen, one of the best free throw shooters in NBA history, missed two consecutive foul shots, something almost unheard of for a career 89.4 percent free throw shooter. Boston had another chance on its next possession, but Kevin Garnett, no longer playing with a Band-aid over his left eye, clanked two foul shots. That's when the Celtics knew the series was headed back to New England.
Boston's bench was MIA. There was not a great deal about which to criticize Boston. On this day, Wade was simply a better player. But the most glaring shortcoming was the Celtics' bench, which contributed very little. Glen Davis had a minus-22 plus-minus and Rasheed Wallace was minus -20. For the most part in this series, Boston's bench has been a difference-maker. But the Celts offered up very little on Sunday -- not that it may have mattered against Wade.
What does this mean for the Celtics? Had they swept the series, the Celtics would have gotten a few extra days rest at least before undertaking a conference semifinal series with their most likely opponent, Cleveland. With their age, Boston certainly could use the extra time off. Wade is not likely to replicate his 46 points for another three games, so the Celtics still are heavily favored to win this series. But it is going to take a bit more effort to do so.
NBA Truth & Rumors