The Boston Celtics felled the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night to put LeBron James and Co. on the brink of elimination as the series heads back to Boston. The Celtics had help from a host of players on the night. Five players scored in double digits, one of whom wasn't Rajon Rondo, who added 13 assists and six rebounds with his seven points, instead.
Mickael Pietrus more than did his part, pitching in 13 points, including two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. The SB Nation blog CelticsBlog points out that even before the Pietrus' offensive outburst, he had been one of Boston's unsung heroes of the series.
In 2008 one of the key role players was James Posey. He played hard-nosed team defense, fought for every loose ball, and just when the other team was starting to make a run, he'd drill a dagger three pointer to turn the tide. That's exactly what Mickael Pietrus did for us last night.
Before last night, he had made exactly one shot in the series but that didn't stop him from being helpful. He's been solid on defense and you could argue that his 2 straight offensive rebounds in overtime of game 4 were as important as any shots that were made. Even though the Celtics couldn't convert on that possession, they held the ball away from the Heat long enough to limit their shot attempts in overtime.
The Heat had just two players cross over into double figures in Game 5, and they were exactly the two you would guess. Once seemingly in firm control of the series, the Heat will bear criticism from all angles during a long offseason if they cannot pull out Game 6 on Thursday night. According to the Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier, everyone needs to step their game up, from the stars to the supporting cast.
Now the Heat must win on the road in Boston for a chance at a Game 7 back home or this season will end as ugly as it did last season. With all the pressure on their shoulders, they must win two straight to get to the NBA Finals in what was once thought to be an easy road to the championship round after the season-ending injury to Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose and the struggles of the Celtics against the Philadelphia Sixers.
It's not over by a long shot but the Heat must count on the Big 3 individually to have brilliant games and for the supporting players to step up to give them badly needed support. Their defense still hasn't been able to contain Garnett in the paint and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen don't look as hobbled as they did to start the series.