-- Not this time.
For the second straight game, Boston allowed Cleveland to get off to a strong start in Game Four of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
But this time the Celtics didn't pack it in.
Instead the responded with the heart of a true champion and evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2 with a hard-fought, 97-87, triumph over the heavily-favored Cavs.
Game Five is Tuesday night at the Quicken Loans Arena and Game Six will be Thursday night in Boston.
The Celtics put their fans on a rollercoaster of emotions in the game, starting off slow and then struggling to score points in the third quarter. But in the end they left the TD Garden with a confidence-building win after getting blown out in Game Three. For their effort, they were given a standing ovation by the sellout crowd of 18,624.
Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with a triple-double, with 29 points (which ties a playoff career-high), 18 rebounds (a new playoff career high) and 13 assists in a Herculean effort.
With 17.8 seconds left in the game while he was at the free throw line, the crowd let Rondo know how much they appreciated his effort by chanting "MVP," over and over again.
Kevin Garnett added 18 points and 6 rebounds for the home team, Ray Allen added 18 points, and Tony Allen scored 15 points off of the bench.
The Celtics won the battled of the boards, outrebounding the Cavs, 47-33, and they forced 17 Cleveland turnovers. In addition, the Celtics were able to limit the Cavs to just 40.3 percent shooting after allowing them to knock down nearly 60 percent of their shots in Game Three.
While all five of Cleveland's starters scored in double-digits once again, they were "limit" LeBron James to 22 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Shaquille O'Neal added 17 points and 5 rebounds.
After giving a lackluster performance in the third quarter where the Celtics allowed the Cavs to shoot 64.3 percent from the field while being held to 28.6 percent shooting, resulting in their nine-point halftime lead being slashed to 74-72, the Celtics opened up the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run to give them an 84-72 cushion.
During their momentum-swinging surge, the Celtics held the Cavs to 0-for-5 shooting while forcing four Cleveland turnovers. Offensively the Celtics knocked down five of their first six shots as Tony Allen capped off the surge with a fastbreak layup with 8:40 remaining in the game.
It was Tony Allen who ignited Boston's fourth-quarter spurt with a steal on Cleveland's opening possession. He passed the ball to Rondo who scored on a fastbreak layup. Then after a Rasheed Wallace steal, Glen Davis scored a breakaway layup. Allen followed that up with a layup, and Paul Pierce steal, Allen scored on another layup.
Rivers surprisingly took Allen out of the game after that and replaced him with Ray Allen. And with their fourth-quarter sparkplug on the bench, the Cavs made a run. James, who scored five straight points for the Cavs, cut Boston's lead to 86-81 with a layup and free throw with 5:37 to go. Paul Pierce picked up his fifth foul on the play and Tony Allen came back into the game for him, but by then the Cavs were on a roll.
An Anderson Varejao layup and free throw closed the gap to 86-84, but Tony Allen did not back down. He knifed his way to the basket for a layup to push Boston's lead back up to 88-84, but after a Cleveland timeout with 2:53 remaining.
When the two teams returned to the court after the timeout, nearly everyone in the building was on their feet, most waiving white Celtic towels.
A Varejao free throw closed the gap to 88-85 but Pierce answered with a two-handed dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The Celtics forced a turnover on Cleveland's ensuing possession, and Rondo, the smallest player on the court, grabbed a rebound off a Garnett miss and put it back in for a layup to extend the Celtics lead to 92-85 with 1:34 remaining.
The Celtics were able to hold off the Cavs after that.