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Celtics vs. Heat

Game 5

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6/5/12

The Boston Celtics may have scared the Miami Heat into bringing Chris Bosh back from an abdominal injury that has seen him miss the last nine games.  At least that seems to be the case now that the fourth-seeded Celtics have tied the second-seeded Heat (-8) at two games apiece heading back to Miami for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Boston managed to win Game 4 on Sunday 93-91 at home in overtime despite scoring only 32 points in the second half and the extra session combined.  Heat stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James failed to come through in the clutch, as neither player could complete a game-winning play in regulation or OT.  In fact, James fouled out for the first time in a Miami uniform and finished with 29 points.  He continued to struggle at the free-throw line as well, making just 4 of 8 to bring his total to 29 of 46 (63 percent) in the series.

The Heat clearly miss an inside presence and are expected to get one back in Bosh, who has not played since Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers in the previous round.  Without Bosh in the middle for Miami, Kevin Garnett has been a force for the Celtics with series averages of 20.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.  Many thought Garnett was past his prime and on his last legs last year, but he has gotten his groove back and found a way to take advantage of Bosh's absence.

Even though Bosh is likely returning, Boston needs to continue to work the ball into the paint and make the Heat defend the basket.  The Celtics have used this strategy perfectly in winning the last two games behind point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been able to penetrate the lane and make plays whether he is shooting or dishing the ball off to one of his teammates.

Miami is just 1-7 against the spread in the last eight meetings, going 3-5 straight-up.  While three of those losses took place in the month of April when there was not much on the line, they have still given Boston plenty of confidence that has been built even higher after winning the last two games to tie up the series.

The Heat played outstanding defense in the second half of Game 4, but it was not enough and their offense stalled at the worst possible time.  They need to start games with that same defensive intensity and avoid digging themselves into the same halftime holes.  Miami has not led at the half in any of the first four games, trailing in the past three while surrendering an average of more than 56 points.  That has translated to the OVER cashing in each of the last three games of the series.

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