In the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat continued an amazing rivalry. The two teams split the first four games of the series, setting up an all-important Game 5. Boston defeated the Heat 94-90 to take a 3-2 series lead back to Boston behind a dagger three from Paul Pierce.
We at the Houdini thought we would highlight a game from one of the best rivalries the NBA has had in the last decade (this is the last game we are featuring from the Big 3 Cs era).
Some background heading into the game is that the Celtics and Heat were two teams that despised each other at the time. It was aclassic NBA rivalry as the two teams had star power, were super physical with one another, and had already had playoff battles.
The Boston Celtics were motivated to beat the Heat because they were embarrassed in five games the year before. Meanwhile, Miami was facing pressure in the second year of their Big 3 era because the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, failed to win a title in year one.
The 2012 Celtics were determined to take down the Heat, and they showed why in a big Game 5 win on the road. Boston shot poorly in the first half and even trailed by as many as 13 points. The Cs found a way to battle, and Kevin Garnett anchored a strong second half from the Celtics. Pierce stepped up when it mattered most and delivered a 3-2 lead for the Celtics that put the Heat in a dire spot.
The game is iconic because it’s the last truly great game of the Big 3 era, and it led to LeBron James transforming his career into borderline GOAT status.
Now let’s dive into the main categories of our rewatch series.
Biggest moment of the game: Paul Pierce’s dagger three-pointer over LeBron James to give Boston Celtics 3-2 series lead
The Celtics were up by one with a little over a minute left, and they turned to their closer: the Truth. Pierce got the ball in an isolation situation and got the switch he wanted with James. Pierce slowly operated, which caught James off guard, and then he shot a clutch three over the contest of James. The Celtics went up by four, and Pierce ran down the court talking to himself and the crowd. This is the last truly great Celtics play from Pierce, and it’s a memorable shot in Celtics history.
Although the Celtics would lose the next two games and the series heartbreakingly, the shot is memorable, and it shows how clutch Pierce was.
Star of the game: Kevin Garnett
Garnett had a tremendous postseason in 2012, and he continued his strong play in Game 5. The Celtics big man finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. The 20/10 game was the ninth time Garnett finished with that stat line up to that point in the 2012 postseason.
Garnett also had a memorable postgame interview with Doris Burke where he looked directly at the camera and called out owners and people who thought he couldn’t play anymore because he was old. The interview was classic Garnett with his passion and intensity, and it was the perfect cap on his excellent performance.
Winners of the game: Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce/ Mickaël Piétrus
Garnett is an obvious winner in this game, but Pierce deserves credit for his strong fourth quarter. Pierce struggled from the field in this game as he shot 6-19, but he made the plays when they mattered most. That is all you can ask of your best player in a playoff game, and Pierce delivered.
An unsung hero from the Game 5 win was Mickaël Piétrus, who was a midseason acquisition. Piétrus had 13 points and two steals off the bench. In the fourth quarter, Piétrus hit a couple of big shots that put the Celtics in a position to win the game. In the Big 3 era, it always felt like the Celtics had multiple bench players who could become unsung heroes.
Losers of the game: Ray Allen/Paul Pierce haters
It was very hard to find losers in this game for the Boston Celtics, so Ray Allen is a loser by default. Allen had 13 points and seven rebounds, but he did struggle from the field. The Celtics sharpshooter shot a pedestrian 2/9 from the field and 1/4 from three.
Paul Pierce haters are also losers because he once again showed how clutch he was. Not only did Pierce hit a clutch shot, he did it against James on a big stage. It was another moment where Pierce haters had nothing to say.
Impact of the game
The impact of this game is that it was the last great moment for the Big 3 Celtics. This series was the last for Allen, Pierce, and Garnett before their sour breakup. The game is also important in NBA history because it led to James becoming one of the greatest players of all time. James dominated the Boston Celtics in Game 6, which set him and the Cs off on different trajectories.