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NBA PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: Celtics stun Heat in Game 5, lead series, 3-2; OKC can close out Spurs tonight in West

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, center, celebrates with Ray Allen (20), Keyon Dooling (51) and Paul Pierce (34) as Miami Heat's LeBron James, left, walks off the court of Game 5 in their NBA Eastern Conference Finals playoff series Tuesday in Miami. The Celtics won, 94-90, to take a 3-2 series lead.

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, center, celebrates with Ray Allen (20), Keyon Dooling (51) and Paul Pierce (34) as Miami Heat's LeBron James, left, walks off the court of Game 5 in their NBA Eastern Conference Finals playoff series Tuesday in Miami. The Celtics won, 94-90, to take a 3-2 series lead.

Quite bizarre: Masseuse collapses, dies at home of Miami Heat star Bosh

MIAMI — A masseuse was pronounced dead at a South Florida hospital after collapsing at the home of Miami Heat All-Star forward Chris Bosh. Police said no signs of foul play were found.

A cause of death has not been determined.

Miami Beach police said the woman, whose name was not immediately released, went to Bosh’s home Monday and “appeared to be well and in good spirits” upon arrival. Fire rescue workers responded to Bosh’s home and transported the unconscious woman to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead Monday night.

Bosh and his wife Adrienne Bosh released a statement through the Heat on Tuesday night.

“Last evening, a massage therapist that we have used for some time, arrived at our home to provide massage therapy,” the Bosh’s statement said. “Shortly after she arrived, she fainted and lost consciousness. We called 911 and emergency personnel arrived at our home shortly thereafter. They took her to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she passed away. Our hearts go out to her family. We are very sorry for their loss.”

Police spokeswoman Vivian Hernandez said the department will conduct its standard death investigation.

“It’s an absolute tragedy. It really is,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday night. “We’re learning all the full details right now, so it would be probably inappropriate for me to comment any further about it.”

Bosh was with the team for its usual gameday shootaround Tuesday morning, with Spoelstra saying he was “focused.”

“A beautiful soul was lost tonight,” Adrienne Bosh wrote on her verified Twitter account in the early hours of Tuesday morning. “Never take the here and now for granted. Life can be so frail.”

Police said a friend of the victim said she had survived cancer about a year ago.

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.”

The Celtics were down by 13 points in the second quarter, then down nine in the third, and answered both times — prevailing on a night where they shot just 41 percent, and got outrebounded 49-39.

“We stayed with it,” Garnett said. “We had a rough first quarter, first half. We got our stops and made our run ourselves. And when we had to, we had stops.”

Allen and Mickael Pietrus scored 13 apiece for the Celtics, who got 10 from Brandon Bass. Pietrus hit two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for Boston, which remained perfect with this core when facing maybe the most pivotal situation a best-of-seven can offer — a Game 5 with a series tied 2-2.

Pierce, Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are now 9-0 in that scenario.

“We came in with the right focus,” Pierce said. “That was key for us.”

So Game 5s are magical for Boston. Sometimes, they are for James as well.

And sometimes — this one included — they’re not.

James’ most memorable moments have come in Game 5s, like the epic 48 points where he just carried Cleveland on every possession down the stretch at Detroit in 2007, and the 120-88 loss to the Celtics in 2010, his last home game with the Cavaliers.

This one offered more theater, of course. James hit a 3-pointer to give Miami a two-point lead with 8:10 left, closed out on Pierce to force an airball on the next possession, and eventually Miami pushed the margin out to 78-72 on a layup by Wade with 6:17 to play. On that play, James looked gassed, gasping for air as he stood near the baseline.

Those might have been the last gasps the Miami home crowd sees this season. Boston closed on a 22-12 run.

“Every time we got them down, they made runs,” James said. “They made us stagnant offensively, got stops and got back in the game.”

Boston tied the game twice early in the third quarter, before Miami peeled off nine straight points to go up 59-50. Four players scored for the Heat during that quick burst, highlighted by Shane Battier’s corner 3-pointer and a lazy turnover from Rondo, who threw the ball into the backcourt without being pressured by any Miami defender.

But just as they did in the first half when Miami looked poised to pull away, the Celtics rallied — and then some. A 15-1 run gave the Celtics a truckload of momentum and 65-60 lead going into the fourth, capped by Keyon Dooling connecting on a 3-pointer from near the Miami bench with 2 seconds left.

There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter, and the game was tied for the final time when Wade made an acrobatic layup with 1:39 to play.

Miami never led again.

“We played hard,” Battier said. “We just didn’t play intelligent.”

Miami didn’t lead by more than eight points at any time in the three previous games of the series. The Heat changed that quickly, and maybe it was fitting that Chris Bosh got them their first double-digit advantage since Game 1.

Bosh came off the bench for his first minutes since straining a lower abdominal muscle in Game 1 of Miami’s second-round series against Indiana. His three-point play with 1:17 left in the opening quarter — punctuated with a stare-down for some cheering fans — capped a 24-13 Miami run to open the game. James made a 3-pointer with 9:39 left in the half, and the Heat went up 31-18.

The Celtics did what Miami did to them in Games 3 and 4 at Boston. They started chipping away.

Miami missed 15 of its final 17 shots of the first half, with four turnovers thrown in there as well, and the Celtics took advantage. After James’ 3-pointer, Boston outscored Miami 22-11 to close the second quarter — Garnett got six of his eight first-half points in the final 3:09 — and the once-sizable Heat lead was down to 42-40 by intermission.

“We just told our guys, ‘Hang in there, just hang in there, don’t overreact,’” Rivers said. “The longer we’re in the game, the better we’ll play.”

That was the way Game 5 went.

And the series has gone the same way.

NOTES: Dorell Wright, a member of the 2006 Heat championship team and now with Golden State, was in attendance. A denim-vested Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks — Miami’s first-round playoff foe — was seated courtside, and former Celtic Glen Davis was near the Boston bench. … Wade scored seven points in the first 4:22 of the game. He didn’t score again in the first half, and after scoring 26 points by halftime of the series-clincher against Indiana, he has 29 points in five first halves against Boston in this series. … Pierce said before the game that he does not expect to need offseason surgery to repair the sprained MCL in his left knee. “No complaints,” Pierce said.


THUNDER ON VERGE OF FIRST NBA FINALS:

OKLAHOMA CITY — Down and nearly out less than a week ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder are riding a momentum shift to the brink of the franchise’s first NBA Finals.

With three straight wins, the Thunder have changed the conversation from how anyone can stop the San Antonio Spurs’ record-setting 20-game winning streak to how Oklahoma City needs just one win on its home court in Game 6 tonight to play for the NBA title.

Want To Watch?

WHO: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder.

WHAT: NBA’s Western Conference finals, Game 6.

WHEN: 9 p.m. today.

WHERE: Oklahoma City.

TV: TNT.

SERIES: Thunder lead, 3-2.

Hundreds of fans waited in the middle of the night for the Thunder’s plane to land after Game 5, and thousands more will pack Chesapeake Energy Arena to cheer Oklahoma City on. Yet coach Scott Brooks urged Tuesday that riding the momentum isn’t enough to get the job done.

“We have a great opportunity, we’re on our home floor but that doesn’t guarantee automatic victory,” Brooks said during a day off at the team’s practice facility. “They’re not going to give us the game. They’re not just going to say, ‘We’ve lost three in a row, we’re going to give in.’ We know we have a tough challenge ahead.”

Brooks stood near the same spot just a week earlier, surprised when a reporter told him that only 6 percent of NBA teams over the years had overcome an 0-2 deficit in a seven-game series. Now, his Thunder could become only the 15th team to pull off the feat — and the eighth since 2004.

“The percentages, you can’t really feed into that because you know that there’s always a chance,” Brooks said. “There’s 48 minutes to prove that you’re the better team that night, and we have an opportunity tomorrow night to do that again.”

A series of defensive adjustments by Brooks helped turn the series, with 6-foot-7 Thabo Sefolosha switching onto All-Star point guard Tony Parker in Game 3 the most visible change. The Spurs have been tinkering ever since to get back in the groove they’d been riding since mid-April but instead have lost three straight games for the first time all season.

Coach Gregg Popovich put sixth man Manu Ginobili in the starting lineup for Game 5, getting a playoff-best 34 points from the Argentine guard but disrupting the bench rotation in the process. He has also gotten DeJuan Blair back in the mix after benching the former starter for the first part of the playoffs.

“I think we have the right game plan,” Spurs All-Star Tim Duncan said. “We just need to play a little better for a little longer.”

After being blown out by 20 in Game 3, the Spurs have lost the last two by a combined nine points and now must find a way to snap Oklahoma City’s seven-game home win streak.

“It’s not that we have a Game 8 or 9 to recover, so it’s either win or go home,” Ginobili said. “So we have to. It’s our job. So nobody is going to feel sorry about ourselves, we’ve just got to go compete. We know it’s hard to beat them there, but it’s what we have to do. We’ve got to step up and play the best game of the season.”

Ginobili downplayed the changes in Xs and Os and said it comes down to making a couple key plays at the right time. For instance, Oklahoma City’s James Harden hit a clutch 3-pointer with the shot clock running down in the final 30 seconds of Game 5, and Ginobili missed a 3 that could have tied it with about 5 seconds left.

Switch those up, and the series looks different.

“It is the first team to four wins, so there really isn’t anything to celebrate or get happy about until you win the series,” Thunder guard Derek Fisher said. “This team made it to the conference finals last year and I don’t think anybody was happy with the final result, so who cares if we are up 3-2 now? If we don’t finish our business, it does not mean anything and that has to be our mentality going into it.”

After all, if momentum swung once in the series, it could again. The Spurs hadn’t lost at home all postseason either — until Oklahoma City pulled off its win Monday night.

“We don’t pound our chests, we don’t tell everybody how good we are,” Brooks said. “We feel that our worth is through our work, and if we continue to work hard and if we continue to play together, we’re going to have some good results. The expectations always have been there for us.”

But never has the reality been so close.

Comments

VSU 2 years, 6 months ago

Looks like the Heat are suffering a meltdown, right coach?

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