Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and Von Wafer led the charge as the Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 85-82 at TD Garden this afternoon.
Just how the Celtics drew it up.
The Celtics won a wacky game in which Paul Pierce went 0 for 10 from the field and the team as a whole scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. They took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter and held their breath as LeBron James missed a potential game-tying free throw and Mike Miller missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time expired. The win vaults the Celtics into first place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are 3-0 against the Heat this season with one to play.
"It was a huge win for us with all of the stuff we have going on, the injuries," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We were thinking, we aren't going to have enough bodies."
The Celtics trailed by just five points after the first quarter despite shooting 30 percent. Their biggest accomplishment in the first was staying out of foul trouble -- Pierce gave an intentional foul with under two minutes to play in the quarter and the Celtics had only three team fouls after one.
Boston played suffocating defense in the second quarter, forcing eight Heat turnovers. Pierce took his shadowing of James very seriously. Both players sat out to start the quarter, but Pierce checked back in when James did and guarded the Miami superstar well. James had 10 points by halftime but nothing came easily. Pierce, meanwhile, went 0 for 7 in the first half while expending his energy on defense. Pierce's effort was representative of his team's as a whole -- the Celtics remained in the game despite 37-percent shooting.
The Celtics made their first four shots in the third quarter to jump out to a 51-44 lead. The teams scuffled at the 7:28 mark of the third after Kevin Garnett set a legal, hard pick on Miami's Miller. Dwyane Wade took exception to the screen and shoved Garnett in the back. The players exchanged words before Wade was assessed with a Flagrant-1 foul. The Celtics seemed fueled by the exchange, building a 74-61 lead after three. They outscored the Heat 35-18 in the third.
The fourth was ugly, but the Celtics got aggressive play out of Davis, who finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Perkins led the Celtics in scoring for most of the game and finished with 15 points, while Wafer finished with 10.
"The bench won the game in the first half," said Rivers. "The first unit was kind of dragging...then the second unit comes in and we don't change anything. They just -- everything was quicker, harder, more desperate. And they made things happen."
Chris Bosh led Miami with 24 points. Wade was 6 of 17 from the floor.
The Celtics have a couple of days off before closing out their pre-All Star break schedule on Wednesday against the Nets. The potential returns of Shaquille O'Neal and Delonte West would be a huge boost to the team after the break.
Final: Celtics 85-82: Glen Davis hits a couple of free throws. Mike Miller misses a wide open 3-pointer on the other end. What a finish.
18.2 seconds 4th quarter, Celtics 83-81: Rajon Rondo shoots and misses, and the Heat have a chance to tie or take the lead.
1:53 4th quarter, Celtics 81-79: Who is going to step up? Pierce still won't shoot. Glen Davis is the only Celtic showing any aggression.
3:02 4th quarter, Celtics 81-77: Kevin Garnett picked up his fifth personal foul, while Rajon Rondo recorded his fourth. The fans are getting restless. It shouldn't have come to this, but the Celtics need to dig down if they're going to pull off this win.
4:51 4th quarter, Celtics 79-75: What's going on here? The Celtics have lost all of their defensive energy. They're taking bad shots on offense. You can't blame Paul Pierce for passing on jumpers (he's 0 for 8), but someone else needs to have that killer instinct.
6:23 4th quarter, Celtics 79-73: It's all trending badly for the Celtics. James is getting to the basket whenever he wants. The Celtics are helping less on defense and getting burned.
9:57 4th quarter, Celtics 77-65: Von Wafer hits a big three. The Celtics needed it because points are coming too easily for the Heat to start this quarter.
END 3d quarter, Celtics 74-61: What a quarter for the Celtics, who outscored Miami 35-18 in the third quarter to take a 13-point lead into the fourth. Doc Rivers was worried about foul trouble and the Celtics are good there, too. Allen and Rondo have three, but that's it.
3:16 3d quarter, Celtics 67-57: Von Wafer is in for Ray Allen, while Glen Davis is in for the Celtics' leading scorer Kendrick Perkins (15 points). Rajon Rondo is going to play a lot of minutes tonight.
7:28 3d quarter, Celtics 57-46: Oh good, some bad blood. Finally something interesting about this game. A Flagrant-1 foul called on Dwyane Wade for shoving Kevin Garnett. KG set a hard, legal pick on Mike Miller, and Wade retaliated.
8:30 3d quarter, Celtics 51-44: Ray Allen hits a 3-pointer (new NBA record) to force a Miami timeout. The Celtics are 4 of 4 to start the second half.
10:22 3d quarter, Celtics 44-43: Rajon Rondo takes it to Zydrunas Ilgauskas and lays it in plus the foul. The Celtics need Rondo to be more aggressive this half.
Halftime, Heat 43-39: The Celtics let up a little bit at the end of the half, but they have to be pleased with their overall performance, especially on defense. They're shooting 37 percent but have forced 12 Miami turnovers.
Paul Pierce is making things difficult for LeBron James, but Pierce has yet to make a shot from the field. He's 0 for 7.
2:51 2d quarter, Celtics 35-32: The Celtics are playing phenomenal defense. Kevin Garnett just pulled the chair on Chris Bosh and forced a turnover. On the previous possession, Paul Pierce went under a pick and gave LeBron James a long three that missed. Boston is determined not to let Miami get to the basket, and they're doing a tremendous job.
5:10 2d quarter, Celtics 31-30: The Heat are doing a good job of closing out on Celtics shooters, including Glen Davis, who hasn't been able to get off his typical 15-footer. Davis has done a great job taking it to the basket and getting his scoring (6 points) that way.
7:26 2d quarter, Heat 27-26: LeBron comes back into the game, which brings Pierce back up off the bench. Rajon Rondo returns to the game as well to replace an ineffective Nate Robinson. Big stretch here before halftime.
9:16 2d quarter, Heat 25-24: Glen Davis with a blooper highlight, missing a wide-open layup 15-feet ahead of the field. Doc Rivers laughed, but it would have been a big bucket after Von Wafer finished on the break on the last possession. Kendrick Perkins (7 points, 4 rebounds) continues to do work.
11:10 2d quarter, Heat 23-20: Big momentum play by Kendrick Perkins, grabbing an offensive rebound and sticking with the play for a bucket plus one. The Celtics don't need much offense from Perkins, but they need him to finish on the chances he gets.
END 1st quarter, Heat 20-15: It's hard to be positive about a 15-point first quarter, but I'll give it a shot. The Celtics shot only 30 percent and they're down five. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have stayed out of foul trouble. And no one got hurt. The Celtics have three more quarters to make this right.
4:22 1st quarter, Celtics 11-10: The Celtics are hanging in there despite shooting 29 percent.
6:51 1st quarter, Heat 5-4: Ray Allen hits a three to end a drought. The Celtics are just 2 of 9. Sunday starts aren't often kind to the C's.
9:22 1st quarter, Heat 4-2: The Celtics are 1 of 4. Paul Pierce hasn't gotten a single touch on offense.
Pregame: How early is it? Early. Going to be interesting to see how these teams start the game.
Ray Allen was honored just before the jump as the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made. Allen was joined at midcourt by his teammates.