One win away from bringing down the giants of the East, the Boston Celtics return home to battle LeBron James and the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The stakes are clear. Win, and return to the NBA Finals. Lose, and the road gets tougher.
Boston has tied its longest winning streak of the postseason, responding to an 0-2 series hole against Miami by rattling off two straight victories at TD Garden and tacking on another after a wild fourth quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena, giving the Celtics a 3-2 series lead.
James had 30 points and Dwyane Wade scored 27 points, but it was a three-pointer with 52 seconds left in the fourth from Paul Pierce (19 points) that put the nail in the coffin and powered Boston to a 94-90 win in Game 5 on Tuesday. Kevin Garnett put together another masterpiece with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus both notched 13 points and Rajon Rondo was held to seven points, but had 13 assists and six rebounds.
Garnett has been producing at 2007-08 levels, when he first joined the Celtics. Garnett is averaging 19.9 points and 10.8 rebounds through 18 postseason games and has accrued 13 double-doubles. Pierce (19.4 PPG) and Rondo (16.8 PPG, 11.9 APG, 6.7 RPG) have also been productive. Brandon Bass and Allen are also averaging double-digit scoring.
James and Wade have, unsurprisingly, had success in the playoffs. James is averaging 29.9 points in the postseason and 31.8 points and 10.0 rebounds in the East Finals. Wade is averaging 23.3 points this postseason and 22.0 points in five games against Boston.
Should the Celtics win in Game 6, they would advance to the third NBA Finals of the new Big Three era, and their opponent will be the Oklahoma City Thunder, who eliminated the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals with a 107-99 win in Game 6.
Tip off is at 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursday night. The game will be aired on ESPN and WEEI.