Paul Pierce hit a 3-pointer with 52 seconds left to help move the Boston Celtics within one win of the National Basketball Association Finals with a 94-90 victory against the host Miami Heat.
The Celtics, who trailed 42-40 at halftime, can advance to the championship round with a home victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals tomorrow. If the Heat win that game, a deciding seventh game will be played in Miami two days later.
“We do it together,” Kevin Garnett, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds last night for the Celtics, said in a televised interview. “We don’t do it individually, but when we do we look bad. When we do it together we look pretty darn good.”
Pierce, who had 19 points, gave the Celtics a 90-86 lead with his 25-foot shot in the final minute of the game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Ray Allen and Garnett followed with two free throws each to cement the victory.
“They jumped on us at the beginning of the game and I just told them to hang in there,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “I asked a lot of our guys -- maybe too much at times -- but they came through.”
Dwyane Wade missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left and Garnett grabbed the rebound, sending the ball down to the other end of the court as the clock ran out.
“Playoffs are a test of your collective behavior and your resolve,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s a tough one to lose at home, but it’s over and you have to leave it behind.”
LeBron James had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Wade added 27 points for Miami. Chris Bosh returned after missing nine playoff games with a strained lower abdominal muscle and scored nine points for the Heat in 14 minutes of play.
“I feel good, I definitely had more to give,” Bosh told reporters. “When the time comes, I’ll definitely be ready to play more than I did tonight. It was good for me to put my uniform on again.”
The series winner will face the Oklahoma City Thunder or the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. The Western Conference finals resume tonight in Oklahoma City, with the Thunder leading the best-of-seven series 3-2 in games.