BOSTON - There really wasn't any other way to avoid it. No way around it, the Boston Celtics needed a win against the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night inside TD Garden. Win, and the 0-2 series hole becomes a little bit more manageable. Lose and, well, kiss your title chances of an 18th championship goodbye.
Of course, the Celtics don't live under a rock. They knew it, and boy, did they ever respond.
"Desperation game, to be honest, and we played like it too," said Celtics center Kevin Garnett, who led the charge with a team-high 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Celtics' 101-91 victory. "You don't want to be down 3-0 to a team like this. Very, very good team, very talented team, well coached team. I feel like we played desperation basketball."
Boston and Miami stood neck in neck for most of the first quarter, and the Celtics survived a 16-point frame from LeBron James (finished with game-high 34 points) to take a 30-28 lead. After that, Boston pulled ahead and went up 55-42 at halftime and even led by 22 points through three before the Heat pulled within single digits in the fourth, but no closer.
"Typical Eastern Conference basketball," Garnett said, when asked about this series' physicality. "It's been very physical. This has been nothing to disappoint."
Garnett and company know that it won't be any easier going forward, and they'll be ready.
"Game 4, it's going to be even more [desperate]," said Garnett. "You've got to anticipate them making adjustments, we're going to make some adjustments. But the tenacity, the desperation has to be there. We're playing at home, we have to give it out all out."
Game 4 takes place on Sunday night at TD Garden. Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. EST (ESPN).