MIAMI -- When we were here last, Game 5 seemed like it could be a formality, a chance for the Heat to wrap up the series in quick fashion and head to the Finals. Two games and two Celtics wins later, we've got ourselves a knock-down, drag-out fight to get out of the East.
When we were here last, for Game 2, the Celtics lost in overtime despite 44 points from Rajon Rondo. One school of thought was that Miami had taken Boston's best shot, and still came out on top. Paul Pierce fouled out of that game; he fouled out of Sunday night's game, too, but the Celtics were still able to prevail in overtime. Since last coming to Miami, the Celtics have found new ways to win. They've done it with Rondo, Pierce, Allen, and Garnett, and they've also discovered a bench. They've done it with defense. Tonight we'll find out if they can keep it going.
Here are the details for tonight's game:
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m.
Series: Tied, 2-2
Broadcast info: ESPN, WEEI/850 AM/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)
Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Ray Allen SF: Paul Pierce PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett
Heat: PG: Mario Chalmers SG: Dwyane Wade SF: LeBron James PF: Shane Battier C: Joel Anthony
Officials: Monty McCutchen, Ron Garretson, Derrick Stafford. (Alternate: John Goble)
Adjustments: : That aforementioned Celtics bench is one thing Doc Rivers has changed on the fly, with great success. Instead of going big with Ryan Hollins and Greg Stiemsma, Rivers has gone small, bringing in Keyon Dooling, Mickael Pietrus, and Marquis Daniels. Daniels is the big change, having not been a factor in the Celtics' previous two series. Other adjustments? The Celtics are finding new ways to get the ball to Garnett, and they're switching up their looks on James and Wade. It's up to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to make his move.
Bosh could be back: Chris Bosh may play in Game 5, which could give the Heat a lift, or could throw them off. One good thing about Bosh's return for Miami would be his ability to draw defensive attention. Garnett hasn't had to worry about his own man this series, but that could change.
Fouls: This blog is not a fan of over-analyzing every foul call and the official who made it, but Pierce has fouled out twice this series. James fouled out in Game 4. The Celtics can't keep losing Pierce and expecting to win games.