The Celtics weren't going down without a fight but the boys from Boston could do little in the final minutes of Game 5 to stave off a 10-point run by LeBron James. The Celtics were sent packing in a 97-87 loss. But was the Heat's commanding victory more a result of Miami's skill or Boston's bad luck? SI.com's Ian Thomsen writes that blaming the Heat's win on an injury-riddled Celtics squad would do a disservice to both teams. "Had Rondo been healthy, would the Celtics be looking forward to a Game 6 at home?" Thomsen writes. "It is neither an excuse the Celtics were offering nor one that is fair to the Heat, who come together in a short time with teammates who struggled to complement one another. The Celtics didn't collapse at the sight of them, or the sight of their own injury report. Their stubbornness gave meaning to Miami's victory."
While Doc Rivers' squad may join the powerhouse Lakers and Spurs on the sidelines for the remainder of the NBA playoffs, speculation is heating up about who the Heat has moved to the forefront.
Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks - The Bulls will take the court at Philips Arena for their Game 6 showdown with the Atlanta Hawks. Chicago leads the series 3-2.
By The Numbers
$1 million - Fine received by the Fiesta Bowl in the aftermath of a recent scandal involving apparently illegal campaign contributions from various staffers and inappropriate spending by the former CEO.
3 - Number of races Daytona 500 champ Trevor Bayne has missed after an unknown illness sidelined him. Bayne is expected to return May 22 at the Nationwide Series' race in Iowa.
56 - Number of regular season games won by the Boston Celtics. Coach Doc Rivers recently said that he "probably" will return to coach Boston again next season.
By the end of Sunday night's game against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics were left in tatters, facing a 99-90 Game 1 loss. While Boston suffered a significant blow when Paul Pierce was ejected from the game after receiving two technicals in a span of less than one minute, that was the lesser of the Celtics' problems. As SI.com's Ian Thomsen explains, the Celtics crumbled under the pressure and lacked cohesiveness, all while the Heat found its stride atop an impressive 38-point showing by Dwyane Wade.
"Wade and Jones (25 efficient points) had dumped the Celtics in a deep 87-74 hole at the time of Pierce's ensuing run-in with Wade, which makes Pierce's ejection less the cause and more a symptom of Boston's opening-game downfall," writes Thomsen. "Wade was running the baseline defensively when he bore through a Pierce screen. Referee Ed Malloy instantly called double technicals on both stars, and then pointed Pierce to the locker room."
Having lost to the Heat twice within the last month, the Celtics will enter Tuesday's Game 2 match-up with something to prove. Their lackluster performance Sunday may light the fire the team and Pierce needs to avoid rookie mistakes and charge back into this series. Or could Game 1 be just a sign of things to come?
Atlanta¬†Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls (8:00 p.m., TNT)
Dallas Mavericks vs. L.A. Lakers (10:30 p.m., TNT)
By The Numbers
13 - Number of consecutive games the Cleveland Indians have won at home. Their 13th victory came against the Detroit Tigers, Sunday.
5 - Number of titles tennis star Novak Djokovic has won this season. His fifth title at the Serbia Open also marked his 27th straight victory.
76 - Number of first place votes NBA Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau received this year.
This is starting to become a habit for the Miami Heat. The team saw another close game slip out of their hands Sunday in the final seconds when stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade missed shots that could have tipped the match-up in the team's favor. The Chicago Bulls won with a 87-86 victory, making them No. 3 in the Big East. Those missed opportunities by James and Wade were the 12th and 13th consecutive shots that could have tied the game or put the Heat on top in the final seconds of the game or overtime. While few would contest the talent on the Heat roster or their scoring ability but when it comes to actually sealing the deal in crucial moments of games, the team has struggled.
"I told my team, I'm not going to continue to fail late in games," James recently said. "I put a lot of blame on myself tonight. I told the guys that I just keep failing them late in games and I won't continue to do that."
The players' performance against the Bulls marked the Heat's fourth-straight loss. A three-pointer and lay up courtesy of Mario Chalmers put the Heat up 86-84 with just 25 seconds left. A foul called against Mike Miller turned the ball over to the Bulls and Luol Deng made two free throws to push Chicago ahead. When the ball made its way back to the Heat, James missed a lay up, which was rebounded by Wade. Unfortunately for the Heat, Wade missed the shot as time expired.
"The Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted, losing games," Wade remarked sarcastically. "The world is better now because the Heat is losing."
So what exactly is going on with the Heat? While it may not be time to panic just yet, the team's closing troubles will come back to bite them if their star players are unable to step up their clutch playing.
There is plenty more NBA action tonight: Utah Jazz vs. New York Knicks - Knicks fans will be waiting to see if Carmelo Anthony takes the court after getting knocked around during New York's game against Atlanta. If he does, look for the Knicks to give Utah quite a challenge.
By The Numbers
18.5 - Ben Hansbrough scoring average this season, that helped the Fighting Irish to finish in second-place behind Pittsburgh. Hansbrough was the sole unanimous selection for the All-Big East team.
4th - Finish that driver Danica Patrick notched at this weekend's Nationwide stop in Las Vegas. Patrick made history by earning the highest NASCAR finish by a woman in a national series race. Tim Tuttle takes a look at Patrick's NASCAR future.
$15 million - Amount of Matt Thornton's contract with the White Sox. The left hander signed the three-year contract Sunday.