Celtics are too old? More like too good.

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Celtics are too old? More like too good.

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- A week ago, the Boston Celtics were too old. Three games later, they're one win away from the NBA finals. And Miami -- the team that was constructed with hopes of supplanting Boston as the power in the Eastern Conference -- is suddenly in big trouble. Kevin Garnett finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 19 -- including a huge 3-pointer over LeBron James' outstretched arm with 52.9 seconds left -- and the Celtics beat the Heat 94-90 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in the East finals that now shift to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday night. "We've done nothing," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We're playing a heck of a basketball team. So just because we're going to Boston, I told them, we have to play. They're not going to give it to us. We have to go get it." James finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, though he went 8 minutes without scoring in the final quarter. Dwyane Wade scored 27 for the Heat, who got no more than nine from anyone else. "We wouldn't want to be in this situation but we never get too high or too low in a series," James said. "We had an opportunity to come home and take a lead, but we didn't. So we have to go up to Boston and win a game." Pierce's 3 put Boston up 90-86. Miami got within two points twice, and argued that it should have had a steal with 8.8 seconds left. Instead, a foul was called on Udonis Haslem, Garnett made two free throws, and the Celtics knew they had just stolen one on Miami's home floor. Now all they need is one home win of their own to clinch a trip to either Oklahoma City or San Antonio for Game 1 of the NBA finals. The title series starts June 12. "Right now," Celtics guard Ray Allen said, "the next game is Game 7." The Celtics were down by 13 points in the second quarter, then down nine in the third, and answered both times -- prevailing on a night where they shot just 41 percent, and got outrebounded 49-39. "We stayed with it," Garnett said. "We had a rough first quarter, first half. We got our stops and made our run ourselves. And when we had to, we had stops." Allen and Mickael Pietrus scored 13 apiece for the Celtics, who got 10 from Brandon Bass. Pietrus hit two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for Boston, which remained perfect with this core when facing maybe the most pivotal situation a best-of-seven can offer -- a Game 5 with a series tied 2-2. Pierce, Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are now 9-0 in that scenario. "We came in with the right focus," Pierce said. "That was key for us." So Game 5s are magical for Boston. Sometimes, they are for James as well. And sometimes -- this one included -- they're not. James' most memorable moments have come in Game 5s, like the epic 48 points where he just carried Cleveland on every possession down the stretch at Detroit in 2007, and the 120-88 loss to the Celtics in 2010, his last home game with the Cavaliers. This one offered more theater, of course. James hit a 3-pointer to give Miami a two-point lead with 8:10 left, closed out on Pierce to force an airball on the next possession, and eventually Miami pushed the margin out to 78-72 on a layup by Wade with 6:17 to play. On that play, James looked gassed, gasping for air as he stood near the baseline. Those might have been the last gasps the Miami home crowd sees this season. Boston closed on a 22-12 run. "Every time we got them down, they made runs," James said. "They made us stagnant offensively, got stops and got back in the game." Boston tied the game twice early in the third quarter, before Miami peeled off nine straight points to go up 59-50. Four players scored for the Heat during that quick burst, highlighted by Shane Battier's corner 3-pointer and a lazy turnover from Rondo, who threw the ball into the backcourt without being pressured by any Miami defender. But just as they did in the first half when Miami looked poised to pull away, the Celtics rallied -- and then some. A 15-1 run gave the Celtics a truckload of momentum and 65-60 lead going into the fourth, capped by Keyon Dooling connecting on a 3-pointer from near the Miami bench with 2 seconds left. There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter, and the game was tied for the final time when Wade made an acrobatic layup with 1:39 to play. Miami never led again. "We played hard," Battier said. "We just didn't play intelligent." Miami didn't lead by more than eight points at any time in the three previous games of the series. The Heat changed that quickly, and maybe it was fitting that Chris Bosh got them their first double-digit advantage since Game 1. Bosh came off the bench for his first minutes since straining a lower abdominal muscle in Game 1 of Miami's second-round series against Indiana. His three-point play with 1:17 left in the opening quarter -- punctuated with a stare-down for some cheering fans -- capped a 24-13 Miami run to open the game. James made a 3-pointer with 9:39 left in the half, and the Heat went up 31-18. The Celtics did what Miami did to them in Games 3 and 4 at Boston. They started chipping away. Miami missed 15 of its final 17 shots of the first half, with four turnovers thrown in there as well, and the Celtics took advantage. After James' 3-pointer, Boston outscored Miami 22-11 to close the second quarter -- Garnett got six of his eight first-half points in the final 3:09 -- and the once-sizable Heat lead was down to 42-40 by intermission. "We just told our guys, Hang in there, just hang in there, don't overreact,'" Rivers said. "The longer we're in the game, the better we'll play." That was the way Game 5 went. And the series has gone the same way. NOTES: Dorell Wright, a member of the 2006 Heat championship team and now with Golden State, was in attendance. A denim-vested Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks -- Miami's first-round playoff foe -- was seated courtside, and former Celtic Glen Davis was near the Boston bench. ... Wade scored seven points in the first 4:22 of the game. He didn't score again in the first half, and after scoring 26 points by halftime of the series-clincher against Indiana, he has 29 points in five first halves against Boston in this series. ... Pierce said before the game that he does not expect to need offseason surgery to repair the sprained MCL in his left knee. "No complaints," Pierce said.

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5 things to know about Kevin Shattenkirk

5 things to know about Kevin Shattenkirk

The Capitals acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on Monday to bolster the blue line for the team's quest for the Stanley Cup. Here's what you need to know about the newest Cap.

1. Shattenkirk is a right-shooting defenseman

This is why they got him. The Capitals are the best team in the NHL with only one notable weakness: Right-shot defensemen. The team had only two in Matt Niskanen and John Carlson. Prospect Madison Bowey likely would have served as depth for the playoffs, but an injury to his ankle meant Bowey would not get a chance to gain any NHL experience in the latter half of the season, leaving the cupboard completely bare. MacLellan added depth defenseman Tom Gilbert from Los Angeles, but he swung for the fences with Shattenkirk, giving the team three right-handed defensemen to balance out the team’s defensive pairs.

RELATED: Depth and championship mindset prompted Shattenkirk trade

2. Shattenkirk will almost certainly be a rental

It was initially surprising to hear Shattenkirk was on the market considering the St. Louis Blues will likely make the playoffs this year. On the final year of his contract, however, the Blues decided not to let him walk away for nothing and made it known he was available. But Washington was not the first team to come calling. According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues had a trade in place with another team, but Shattenkirk nixed the deal by refusing a seven-year, $42 million contract extension. For you non-math majors out there, that’s an average annual value of $6 million. It certainly looks like Shattenkirk is dead set on maxing his value on the open market as a free agent this summer. Considering that the Caps likely won’t have the money to re-sign both Karl Alzner and T.J. Oshie this offseason, they won’t suddenly have the money to re-sign a player who turned his nose at a contract that paid him $6 million per year.​

3. This is the second time in his career that Shattenkirk was traded midseason

Worried about how Shattenkirk will mesh with the Caps? This isn’t the first time he has had to adjust to a new team on the fly. Shattenkirk was traded to St. Louis by the Colorado Avalanche in 2011, his rookie year. In his first game with the Blues, he tallied an assist. He would go on to record 17 points in 26 games with St. Louis that season.

4. The Capitals weren’t the only team interested in Shattenkirk

As referenced above, the Blues had a deal in place with another team weeks before Monday's deal got done. That team is believed to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. But there were also some Metropolitan contenders kicking the tires on the veteran defenseman. Steve Zipay of Newsday reported the New York Rangers were interested as were the Pittsburg Penguins. In the end, however, the high price it took to acquire Shattenkirk kept both the Rangers and the Penguins out of the running. MacLellan dismissed the idea that the trade had anything to do with blocking Shattenkirk from the competition in a conference call with the media on Tuesday, but that doesn’t change the fact that Shattenkirk coming to Washington means he’s not going to New York or Pittsburgh.

5. Shattenkirk is just one of four defensemen to rank in the top-10 in goals, assists and points this season

We all know what Shattenkirk cost, but what will he add? Shattenkirk is a strong player on both ends of the ice. He’s not afraid to be physical or even drop the gloves on occasion. Worried about an inconsistent Caps’ power play? Shattenkirk is an exceptional power play defenseman who can certainly bolster Washington’s attack on the man advantage. His offensive production is solid with 11 goals (5th among all NHL defensemen), 31 assists (7th among NHL defenseman) and 42 points (tied for 4th among NHL defensemen).

MORE CAPITALS: CAPITALS CALL UP TWO FORWARDS TO MAKE UP FOR ZACH SANFORD

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Concern about depth, championship mindset prompted the trade for Shattenkirk

Concern about depth, championship mindset prompted the trade for Shattenkirk

NEW YORK—Although Matt Niskanen is expected to return Tuesday night against the Rangers, his absence the past two games made one thing abundantly clear to Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan: he needed bolster the blue line in the event a key defenseman gets hurt in the playoffs.

So, on Monday night, MacLellan made a bold move, acquiring former All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues.

“We’ve always talked about defensive depth,” MacLellan said on a conference call with reporters. “If a top-4 guy goes down, what are we going to do? I think that played a big part in the decision. The timing of Nisky’s injury where he missed two games maybe created the urgency to pursue it more aggressively.”

MacLellan added: “This gives us insurance if something like that happens where one of our top guys misses a few games.”   

The Blues’ asking price, according to MacLellan, was “in line” with the cost for similar top tier rentals in recent years. As part of the deal, the Caps sent a first round draft pick, prospect Zach Sanford and a conditional pick to St. Louis.

“Every year, to me, it’s a first plus a prospect for the top [unrestricted free agent] guys, and it goes from there,” MacLellan said. “I think the market is fairly similar to what it’s been in the past. So this is in line with what’s happened previously.”

MacLellan said he expects the coaching staff to use the final 21 games of the regular season to figure out where Shattenkirk best fits into the lineup, at even strength and on the power play. 

RELATED: Shattenkirk trade may lead to another deal for the Capitals

Shattenkirk is expected to meet the team in New York and make his Capitals' debut at Madison Square Garden.  

MacLellan also said he consulted T.J. Oshie and Brooks Orpik prior to making the deal. Oshie played with Shattenkirk in St. Louis; Orpik played with him on Team USA.

“I’ve done as much homework as I can on the person,” MacLellan said. “I’ve talked to T.J. Oshie. I’ve talked to Brooks Orpik [about] what kind of guy he is, how would he fit in, what’s his personality like, do the guys like him. I did as much as I could on that side of it to reassure us that he’s a good fit personality wise.”

MacLellan acknowledged that bringing on a big minute blueliner such as Shattenkirk could diminish other players' roles. But he hopes those players will be able to see the bigger picture.

“When you bring in a player of this stature, there’s an excitement, an energy that goes throughout the room,” MacLellan said. “Everybody gets pumped up for the last part of the season. They get excited. You can never tell what it does to the chemistry.”

“As far as the on-ice stuff, there’s a degree of uncertainty,” he added. “It changes roles a little bit. People get less ice time. People get less power play time. I guess the hope is players and coaches and everybody manages it, and that the overall philosophy is everyone is doing what’s best for this team to be successful.”

And what constitutes successful at this point?

“Winning a championship,” MacLellan said.  

MORE CAPS: Two forwards called up from Hershey prior to game vs. Rangers