BOSTON - If you watched all of Tuesday night's game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, you should get a lifetime supply of Tommy Points. After an ugly -- and I mean ugly -- start that saw the C' shoot 23.5 percent in the opening quarter and score a season-low 10 first-quarter points, the Celtics did enough to beat the Heat, 78-66, at TD Garden.
"Well, someone had to win the game. And we did, which was really nice," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "You know these games are still important, probably for both teams. I'm sure Erik (Spoelstra) is still looking at guys. We pretty much know our rotation, but someone else is always going to help you in playoffs, and games like this can give you confidence."
Playing without Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma (that's a combined 52 points), the Celtics did about as well as you would expect. Paul Pierce did play, scoring eight points in 18 minutes, and both Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass finished with 8 points. Sasha Pavlovic scored a game-high 16 points and Marquis Daniels added 13 points and five rebounds. Sean Williams, the former Boston College forward, had five points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals in his home debut. E'Twaun Moore scored seven and JaJuan Johnson scored six in rare minutes for Boston off the bench.
"I started kind of slow in the first half, Doc was on me about that," said Pavlovic. "He told me just to play to it, I took a couple bad shots in the first half. I just came out in the second half and played as hard as I could defensively and whenever I had an open shot I just took it."
"That was huge for Sasha," Rivers said. "I thought it was - especially in the fact that Sasha really struggled in the first half and then he came in the second half and played terrific. I thought for E'Twaun, just playing that amount of minutes at the point-guard position was good for him. And, so, there were a lot of good things in our way for that. You know it every year: someone who plays a little bit comes in in the playoffs and has a big game for you. Marquis, again. So all those guys I thought the game was very important for."
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did not play for Miami, which was held to under 40 percent shooting. Dexter Pittman scored 12 and James Jones had 11 points off the bench to lead Miami. Two players -- Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers -- scored eight and Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard and Norris Cole each scored six points for the Heat.
Boston was ice cold to start the game, missing its first eight shots and falling behind by seven points, 17-10, after 12 minutes. The second quarter was a little more successful for the Celtics, outscoring the Heat 18-17 behind six points from Daniels. Bradley scored six and Bass had six in the third quarter, sparking a 22-16 frame for the Celtics that tied the game at 50 with one quarter to play. Boston outscored Miami 28-16 in the final quarter.
"It wasn't a pretty game," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. "Obviously with twenty-five turnovers, but however we got to that point, we still were tied halfway through the fourth quarter. It just went from there. Even though we weren't playing well we found a way to get up by ten. We never quite recovered after that."
The comeback win gave the Celtics hope for home court advantage in their first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta, which has a one-game lead in the race for home court in the playoffs with one to play, defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 109-102. Both the Celtics and Hawks play their regular season finales Thursday evening.