Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Celts will give Heat everything they've got

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MIAMI -- The Miami Heat know what's coming from the Boston Celtics.

"Their all," Dwyane Wade said.

That's what usually happens when one team is fighting to save its season -- and in this case, the Big Four era in Boston might be at stake as well.

The Eastern Conference finals shift to Boston tonight for Game 3, with the Heat holding a 2-0 lead after staving off perhaps the Celtics' best shot to win a classic. Boston's core of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined to score 96 points in Game 2, the most they've ever scored in a game together, and it still wasn't enough as the Heat held serve at home with a 115-111 overtime victory.

So now, in a season of challenges for the Celtics, the toughest test yet has arrived. Only 14 teams in NBA history have rallied from an 0-2 hole to win a best-of-seven series, and the Celtics haven't done it since 1969.

"We still know we have to play better," Boston coach Doc Rivers said Thursday. "But I think our guys know now that we can play (with Miami). And I don't know if they did know it or not, but after Game 1, it was such a bad loss for us, I think we needed to have that type of game last night. Obviously, we'd have rather won it. But I think our guys are very confident going into Game 3."

There were whispers that the Celtics were finished when the season started with eight losses in 12 games, when they lost seven of eight games to sputter into the All-Star break with a losing record, when they lost their playoff opener to Atlanta, and again when they lost home-court advantage to Philadelphia in the second round.

Trailing Miami in this series is just the latest installment on that list, which the Heat say is ridiculous anyway.

"We don't buy any of that," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "All the labels that people are trying to throw on this team, forget about them. This is a championship team. They've proven themselves. And so the DNA that they have inside of them, that's why they're where they are right now. ... You get them in a seven-game series with the experience that they have, they're as tough as anybody."

Spoelstra got home from the arena in Miami early Thursday morning and quickly started studying film, which meant he got to relive how Rondo shredded the Heat in Game 2.

Rondo finished with a remarkable 44-point, 10-assist, eight-rebound effort, playing every moment of a 53-minute game. Spoelstra said afterward that Miami has no idea how to fully stop Rondo, and suggested on Thursday that while there are some things the Heat can try, he also knows the Celtics' guard won't be completely shut down.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 1, 2012 C5

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