BOSTON — It may not have appeared on the stat sheet. But it was clear to the eye and clear on the face of Miami superstar Dwyane Wade.
When it mattered most, the Celtics did what most thought they could not, and what had to be done to take the series. They slowed down D-Wade.
"Our defensive presence was just there," said Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis. "In Game 4 we kind of backed off a little and D-Wade had a big game. One of the main reasons we closed this out is because of the defense, and maintaining people around D-Wade. D-Wade is a great player."
The Celtics may not have shut down the Heat guard — he posted a game-high 31 points. But, after he erupted for a stunning 46 in Miami's win on Sunday, the C's were not going to allow Wade to beat them single-handedly again.
"I felt like we were getting better defensively as a team in the final 10 games of the season," said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. "We are finally getting back to what we know. And, regardless of D-Wade's numbers, I thought we were very solid in what we wanted to do against him."
Primarily guarded by veteran guard Ray Allen, Wade struggled to find a comfort level with his shot. Entering the game with a .605 field goal percentage (52 for 86) in the series, Wade shot just 10 for 24 last night (.417), including 3 for 8 on 3-pointers.
Frequently drawing a second defender to help Allen, Wade's frustration seemed to grow in the second half. He shot 6 of 13 after the break. By comparison, Allen was 7 of 9 in the last two quarters including 5 of 6 from behind the arc.
Wade, who committed four turnovers in the game's final 13 minutes, even struggled on his trademark drives to the basket. On one drive he was rejected by Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, and on another Davis stepped in front of him to take a charge.