Celtics, Cavaliers meet in East semis
BOSTON — The Boston Celtics have a few days off to prepare for the second round of the NBA playoffs and a matchup with LeBron James.
Dwyane Wade has all summer to recruit him.
Ray Allen scored 24 points, making five 3-pointers in the second half to help Boston beat Miami, 96-86, last night and eliminate the Heat in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. The Celtics will play James and the Cavaliers in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series that will open Saturday in Cleveland.
"I think it's a great matchup. It's great for basketball — such a classic series," said Paul Pierce, who scored 21 points last night. "They're the team to beat right now. They showed it through the course of the season the way they played. We know this is going to be a tough series, another really, really tough series."
Wade scored 31 points, far short of the franchise postseason-record 46 he had Sunday in Miami in Game 4. Now that the Heat are done, he can become a free agent — the No. 2 prize in one of the hottest offseason markets in memory.
"I can't predict the future," said Wade. "It's going to be a very important summer. It's going to be a busy summer. But right now I've still got to get this out of my system first. I'm a good sportsman, but I don't take losing well."
Rajon Rondo had 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, and Boston opened a 21-point lead and then held on after Miami cut the deficit to 73-70 with 10:14 to play.
CAVS 96, BULLS 94
CLEVELAND — LeBron James pulled his right arm tightly to his chest, unable to do anything but grimace as the final seconds expired on Cleveland's series-clinching win.
The Bulls were finally out of the way. But for the Cavaliers, moving on in the NBA playoffs wasn't pain free.
James, playing despite a sore right elbow that forced him to shoot a free throw with his left hand in the closing seconds, just missed a triple-double as the Cavs advanced to a playoff date with Boston by beating Chicago in Game 5 last night.
James scored 19 points and added 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Cavs finally saddled the stubborn Bulls to win the series 4-1.
"It bothers me because I don't know what it is," James said. "Hopefully it doesn't continue to bother me. But I'm not concerned."
LAKERS 111, THUNDER 87
LOS ANGELES — So that's what Kobe Bryant meant when he said Oklahoma City had definitely caught the mighty Lakers' attention.
Pau Gasol had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Bynum added 21 points and Los Angeles rebounded from back-to-back losses with a rout of the Thunder for a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Bryant had 13 points and seven assists in three quarters of work for the defending NBA champions.
"This is the kind of game we can play when we're executing well on both ends of the court," said Bynum, who set a career playoff scoring high. "We need to try to close it out now, and not be satisfied with this."
MAVS 103, SPURS 81
DALLAS — Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood gave the Dallas Mavericks the energy, toughness and scoring they needed — in other words, everything the Mavs expected when they traded for them a few months ago.
Butler scored a career playoff-best 35 points and had 11 rebounds, and Haywood provided a strong inside presence at both ends in his first start of this postseason, keeping the Mavericks alive by leading them to a victory over the San Antonio Spurs last night in Game 5 of their first-round series.
"Now it's a series," said Butler, who just two games before was benched in the second half. "We have to go to San Antonio and bring the same energy and play with the same tenacity and disposition as we played with for 48 minutes here."