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Sports

April 25, 2011

Sweep Dreams

A natural cynic, I'm fighting it.

Believe me, I'm fighting it.

But could the Celtics beat the Heat?

That seemed a preposterous notion just a week ago, but the Celtics, who limped through a miserable final month of the season, just finished a four-game sweep of the Knicks with a 101-89 win yesterday at Madison Square Garden.

Injuries notwithstanding, the Knicks are the epitome of mediocre. Maybe Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Co. will figure it out next year, but that seems far from a given.

Nonetheless, the C's did what they had to do. The first two games were ugly, but they gave the New Yorkers a chance to self-destruct and that's exactly what they did.

Game 3 was supposed to be bedlam at MSG, but these battle-tested C's got past their Game 1 and 2 doldrums and toyed with the Knicks. Ripped their hearts out.

Yesterday was more of the same. Trailing by 23 early in the third, the hosts cut it to 4 with 7:35 left in the game. But Doc Rivers called a time-out and woke his club from the slumber and the C's pulled away.

It was classic modern Big 3 Celtics. Paul Pierce, who was struggling, was inserted into the game and made the two game-changing plays: a driving lefty lay-up followed by a bullet pass to Rajon Rondo for a lay-up.

Pierce made Carmelo Anthony (32 points but on 10-of-24 shooting) work and Melo went out meekly.

Kevin Garnett took advantage of New York's smallish front line for 26 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in 33 minutes and helped limit the banged up Stoudemire to a woeful 5-of-20 shooting day.

The Celtics will be rested and ornery when the Heat finish off the 76ers (Miami leads 3-1) and their Eastern Conference semifinal series begins Saturday or Sunday.

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