MIAMI — A week ago, the Boston Celtics were too old.
Three games later, they’re one win away from the NBA Finals.
And Miami — the team that was constructed with hopes of supplanting Boston as the power in the Eastern Conference — is suddenly in big trouble.
Kevin Garnett finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 19 — including a huge 3-pointer over LeBron James’ outstretched arm with 52.9 seconds left — and the Celtics beat the Heat 94-90 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in the East finals that now shift to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday night.
“We’ve done nothing,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “We’re playing a heck of a basketball team. So just because we’re going to Boston, I told them, we have to play. They’re not going to give it to us. We have to go get it.”
James finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, though he went 8 minutes without scoring in the final quarter. Dwyane Wade scored 27 for the Heat, who got no more than nine from anyone else.
“We wouldn’t want to be in this situation but we never get too high or too low in a series,” James said. “We had an opportunity to come home and take a lead, but we didn’t. So we have to go up to Boston and win a game.”
Pierce’s 3 put Boston up 90-86. Miami got within two points twice, and argued that it should have had a steal with 8.8 seconds left. Instead, a foul was called on Udonis Haslem, Garnett made two free throws, and the Celtics knew they had just stolen one on Miami’s home floor.
Now all they need is one home win of their own to clinch a trip to either Oklahoma City or San Antonio for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The title series starts June 12.
“Right now,” Celtics guard Ray Allen said, “the next game is Game 7.”