When the 2012 ECF started, the feeling around the basketball buzz yard was that this would be the last series for the Celtics ‘Big 3’ in Green and White. GM Danny Ainge’s ageing, banged-up veteran core took seven games to beat the young, 8th-seed 76ers in the previous series.
Now speculation has turned to what will happen if the Heat’s two-year-old triumvirate of James, Wade and Bosh are eliminated tonight in Boston, where they are 1-7 since coming together last season.
After Miami took the first two contests of the series at home, it appeared as if coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad was headed back to the NBA Finals to silence their global critics and naysayers once and for all.
The battle-hardened Celtics did take the Heat to OT in an epic Game 2 before succumbing, but to many hoops analysts this was merely the last gasp of a proud, championship warrior group.
However, when coach Doc Rivers’ guys got back to the famed parquet, they evened things up with one fairly easy victory in Game 3 and one OT white-knuckler in Game 4.
Then in Game 5, the C’s, led by KG and Paul Pierce, bested the Heat in Miami, 94-90, in a back-and-forth 48 that was broken open with 53 seconds left by a Pierce 3-bomb over LeBron James’ extended arm.
The crowd was stunned and silenced on a night that began with the joyful return of All-Star big man Chris Bosh after missing the previous nine playoff games with a lower abdominal strain.
If the 17-banner Celtics win tonight they will return to the NBA Finals for the third time in five years to compete for a second Larry O’Brien trophy. If 2012 NBA MVP James and 8X All-Star Wade can will their side to victory, then Game 7 will be back in Florida on Saturday night.
All who follow the NBA will have their eyes on what promises to be a thrilling Game 6.