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NBA playoffs: Will Miami Heat end Boston Celtics season Wednesday?

NBA playoffs: The Miami Heat stand one win away from the NBA's Eastern Conference finals, after defeating the Celtics in overtime in Game 4. The Heat leads the NBA playoff series, three games to one.

By Staff / May 10, 2011

Miami Heat forward LeBron James hugs teammate Dwyane Wade after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Boston, Massachusetts, May 9.

Adam Hunger/Reuters

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After 'The Decision' and a regular season of trying to find themselves, the Miami Heat are on the cusp of taking that next step up the NBA royalty ladder.

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In Game 4 Monday night, they defeated the Boston Celtics, 98-90, in overtime, to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven NBA playoff series. If the Heat can win Game 5 Wednesday in Miami, they will reach the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since winning the NBA championship in 2006.

Monday night, LeBron James led all Miami scorers with 35 points. But it might have been his defense against Boston's Paul Pierce that helped make the difference when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter.

Pierce, with the clock running down and no other options, was forced to take an off-balance three-point shot at the end of regulation that missed. James then proceeded to score the first basket in the overtime period and Miami never looked back.

Rajon Rondo gamely played for 38 minutes in the contest, despite a left arm injury suffered in Game 3. He was one of five Celtics to score in double figures, but James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh combined for 83 of the Heat's 98 points.

Bosh may have scored the biggest basket of his career in overtime, tipping in a James missed shot with Miami clinging to a three-point lead, late in the extra period.

Now, Miami's 'Big Three' return home with the opportunity to knock out Boston's older 'Big Three': Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, who followed up a 28-point performance in Game 3 with a paltry seven points in Game 4.

As tired as the Celtics looked at the end Monday night, Miami might be as good a place as anywhere for the Boston veterans to walk off into the sunset.

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