MIAMI -- Heat fans must have thought, even for a moment, that they saw the last of Dwyane Wade as a hometown hero with 11.7 seconds left Friday night. That's when he fell to floor and grabbed his left leg before being helped off the court.
It turns out Wade just had cramps in his calf. He should be fine for Sunday's Game 4, but that's when the end could come for Wade's run in Miami. Boston is up 3-0 following Friday's 100-98 victory, and this series is all but over.
While he's not expected to leave the Heat this offseason once he becomes a free agent, there's still a chance Wade could be gone. And Sunday could be his last home game.
It's not something Wade has thought about, and he said as recently as Tuesday he's committed to staying in Miami. But Friday night he experienced what it was like to change jerseys.
Wade, fighting through constant double and triple teams, carrying the offensive load and dealing with cramps in the middle of the fourth quarter, sweated through two jerseys during the game.
"He expended a tremendous amount of energy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He wanted to will it and win it. He made a lot of plays to keep us alive."
Wade missed a jump shot on the Heat's final possession and landed on Ray Allen's foot. He was then helped off the court and watched as Paul Pierce hit a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer to win it.
Wade was helpless on the bench as the Celtics celebrated, but for the first time in this first-round series, he finally got some help on offense. Wade again led Miami with 34 points while adding eight assists and five rebounds, but Michael Beasley (16 points), Dorell Wright (15 points), Udonis Haslem (10 points) and Mario Chalmers (10 points) all contributed to keep the Heat close. This was the first game where the Heat had more than three players score in double figures.
Jermaine O'Neal, on the other hand, continues to struggle. He was 1 of 7 from the field for two points and is now 5 of 31 for the series.
"This is the roughest shooting slump of my career," O'Neal said. "I can't find the rhythm."
The Celtics aren't having those problems. Kevin Garnett returned from his one-game suspension for hitting Quentin Richardson in the face with an elbow in Game 1 and had 16 points and six rebounds. He was booed every time he touched the ball, and Richardson again got into it with the Celtics.
He and Pierce exchanged words in the first quarter, but Pierce got the last laugh in the end with his game-winning shot. Pierce finished with 32 points and eight rebounds and appears to be hitting his stride after dealing with a multitude of injuries during the regular season.
"He is a star," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "He never loses his confidence. He hasn't played great in the first two games, but you could feel before this game he was starting to get his rhythm. When he gets in his rhythm he is really good."
Ray Allen had 25 points for the second game in a row and is playing at a high level, Pierce is starting to get going and Garnett appears to be healthy. Along with Rajon Rondo filling up the stat sheet every night (he had 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds Friday), the Celtics are starting to look like a contender again.
That's a good feeling for a team that looked old prior to the start of the playoffs.
"We just have to stay locked into what we're doing and not lose track of what we're trying to do," Allen said.
The Celtics are on their way toward the second round. The Heat are headed to the offseason, when they hope Wade doesn't change jerseys for good. Unless, of course, it's just because he was covered in Miami sweat.