Celtics move on to battle with Cavs
BOSTON -- The Celtics are heading to the second round of the NBA playoffs and a matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Ray Allen scored 24 points, making five three-pointers in the second half, to help Boston beat Miami, 96-86, in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series on Tuesday night and eliminate the Heat. With Heat star Dwyane Wade due to become a free agent -- along with James -- it could be an eventful summer in Miami.
Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals thanks to 16 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists from Rajon Rondo. Paul Pierce scored 21 for the Celtics, who will play Cleveland, which eliminated Chicago, 96-94, Tuesday night.
Wade scored 31 points -- far short of the franchise postseason-record 46 he scored Sunday in Game 4 in Miami to help the Heat stave off elimination.
Wade, who averaged just under 34 points in the series, now has a chance to test one of the hottest free agent markets in memory. James will be the big prize, of course, but Wade is right behind him and several teams could make a run at both superstars to build a potential contender for years to come.
Boston hooked up with James and the Cavaliers for seven games in the conference semis in 2008 on the way to the Celtics' NBA-record 17th championship.
"We just have to come out with a defensive mind-set, keep LeBron from getting on fire," Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said in the on-court, postgame scoreboard interview while the Cavaliers and Bulls were early in the third quarter.
It was the second straight night a Boston team clinched a playoff series at TD Garden. On Monday, the Bruins beat the Buffalo Sabres in Game 6 to advance to the NHL's Eastern Conference semifinals.