MIAMI, Florida, April 28 – Dwyane Wade scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter in leading Miami to a 97-91 victory over Philadelphia that advanced the Heat into a second-round NBA playoff matchup with Boston.
Chris Bosh scored 22 points and matched Wade with a game-high 11 rebounds while LeBron James added 16 points, 10 rebounds and a game-high eight assists as Miami ousted the 76ers 4-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.
"(It was) very difficult. That team is resilient," Wade said. "We knew it was going to be that way."
Miami, which went 1-3 against Boston this season, reached a much-anticipated matchup against the Celtics and their rival superstar trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
"We have gotten better since game one of the regular season and we have gotten better every game since," Wade said. "It’s going to be a great series. We will be ready for game one."
The Chicago Bulls will face Orlando or Atlanta in the other second-round Eastern Conference matchup. The host Hawks can eliminate Orlando in game six on Thursday.
Mario Chalmers added 20 points for Miami while Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala each scored 22 points to lead the 76ers.
Miami, which won the first three games of the series, finished off Philadelphia despite a 76ers rally down the stretch.
Wade sank a 3-pointer to put Miami ahead 81-71 with 8:20 remaining and capped his run of seven of eight Heat points with a driving jumper after the 76ers had closed the gap to boost Miami’s lead back to 86-78 with 5:00 to play.
But after Thaddeus Young sank a driving jumper and Jrue Holiday added two free throws with 3:15 remaining, the 76ers had pulled back within 86-84.
James added two free throws for Miami but Iguodala answered for Philadelphia with a long jump shot. Bosh hit two free throws for the Heat but Young responded with another jumper to keep the 76ers within 90-88.
A shot-clock violation by Miami gave the 76ers the ball but rookie Evan Turner missed a baseline jumper that would have pulled the visitors even.
Wade was called for a technical foul for complaining about the lack of a foul call on the 76ers when he drove to the basket and Philadelphia sank a free throw to pull within 90-89.
Bosh added two free throws to make it 92-89 with 51 seconds to play but Iguodala sank another jumper to put Philadelphia within a point once again.
Miami’s Joel Anthony sank two tension-packed free throws with 16 seconds remaining, stretching the Heat lead to 94-91 with 16 seconds to play.
Iguodala missed a two-point attempt and Wade, who was fouled going for the rebound, made the second of his two free throws to seal the Heat victory.
In San Antonio, NBA regular-season pace-setters San Antonio scrambled to a 110-103 over-time win against Memphis on Wednesday, avoiding a first-round playoff loss that would have dented their title hopes.
Argentine guard Manu Ginobili scored 33 points, French playmaker Tony Parker added 24 and Tim Duncan contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, but it was San Antonio reserve Gary Neal who stole the show.
Neal sank a three-pointer over Grizzlies defender O.J. Mayo at the final buzzer of the fourth quarter to lift the Spurs into a 97-97 deadlock, forcing the first over-time game in this year’s NBA playoffs.
The Spurs, who squandered a 16-point first-half lead, exchanged points with the Grizzlies until Parker put San Antonio ahead with a three-pointer with 93 seconds remaining in the extra five-minute period.
After a Memphis shot-clock violation, George Hill and Ginobili sank free throws in the final seconds to secure a victory that pulled the Spurs within three games to two in the Western Conference best-of-seven first-round series.
The Grizzlies can still complete one of the biggest shocks in NBA playoff history with a victory in game six at home on Friday, while the Spurs must win that game and a seventh in San Antonio on Sunday to advance.
A Memphis team that had never won a playoff game until this series was on the brink of ousting a Spurs squad that went an NBA-best 61-21 this season to claim a home-court edge throughout the playoffs, provided they stay in them.
Only once in NBA history has a top seed dropped a seven-game series to a bottom seed in the first round of the playoffs — in 2007 when Golden State stunned a Dallas Mavericks team that had won 67 regular-season games.
The Grizzlies nearly made it happen again after Zach Randolph, who led Memphis with 26 points, hit a 19-foot jumper for the right side as the shot clock expired to give Memphis a 93-90 lead with 13.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Ginobili answered with a layup and after two Randolph free throws it was Ginobili who attempted a three-pointer from the right corner.
The ball went in but video review by referees found the South American star’s left foot was barely on the three-point arc and the basket was reduced to a two-pointer, leaving the Grizzlies ahead 95-94.
Randolph sank two free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining and only Neal’s under pressure basket kept the Spurs’ title dream alive.
Mike Conley added 20 points for Memphis while Sam Young scored 18 and Spaniard Marc Gasol contributed 11 points and 17 rebounds.