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.
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