In the end, they just didn't have enough, and they bowed out quickly and completely.
Despite leading for much of the game, the Celtics disintegrated down the stretch, absorbing a 16-0 run by the Miami Heat to close out a 97-87 loss in Game 5 of the two teams Eastern Conference semifinal series on Wednesday night. Nenad Krstic's 18-foot jumper at the 4:28 mark of the fourth quarter represented the last points the Celtics would score in the 2010-2011 season.
The Heat would end up outscoring the Celtics 26-14 in the fourth quarter, as another game went up in a haze of missed opportunities, bad turnovers and unconscionable mental errors for the C's. Kevin Garnett, who scored a dominant 12 points in the first quarter, managed only three more for the rest of the game, repeatedly passing up post chances against the likes of Miami's Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony in the second half. Paul Pierce, in foul trouble all night long, finished with just 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting and Rajon Rondo was largely ineffective due to his dislocated elbow and a back injury that flared up in the first half, ending his season with six points and three assists. Only Ray Allen, who scored 18 points and hit five 3-pointers, showed any consistency on offense for the C's.
LeBron James scored 33 points for the Heat, including their final 10, on 11-of-20 shooting. His 3-pointer with 2:10 left to play put the Heat up for good. Dwyane Wade put up another dominating performance, particularly in the first half, when he scored 23 of his 34 points on 9-of-12 shooting, almost single-handedly keeping Miami in the game in the process, while Bosh aded 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since their championship run in 2006 and will face the winner of the Chicago Bulls/Atlanta Hawks series, currently led 3-2 by the Bulls.
The Celtics, who put up a gallant fight until the final minutes, played much of the fourth without Rondo or Jermaine O'Neal, and were undone by mistakes. Delonte West, who had another solid game with 10 points, committed a couple of costly turnovers, as did Jeff Green, who had nine points off the bench. It was the second straight game in which the Celts finished with more turnovers than assists.
With their season now over, the Celtics will face a variety of uncertainties headed into the offseason, starting with the future status of head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers does not have a contract for next season and has turned down several extension offers from the team.