“Don’t let us get one” has now turned into “don’t let us get three” as the Boston Celtics froze out the Miami Heat to stave off elimination and force a Game 6 in Miami. With the 110-97 win, the Celtics are one step closing to potentially making history as the first team to come back from a 0-3 deficit. Derrick White kept his outstanding series going with 24 points to go with 6 three-pointers. For the Heat, Duncan Robinson led all Miami scorers with 18 points.
The tone of the game was established almost immediately as two three-pointers from Marcus Smart (23 points, 5 steals, four three-pointers) following some excellent ball movement initiated by Jayson Tatum put the Celtics up 15-5. Just like in the second half of Game 4, Miami was unable to really dribble around Celtics players, only getting prayers to go down. Jaylen Brown, struggling so far this series, continued to make a living in the fastbreak, pushing the pace and even getting a few threes to drop. Actually, it was a barrage of three-pointers.
Jaylen Brown (21 points, 3 steals) and Jayson Tatum (21 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 rebounds) both were integral to a fast start on both ends.
In the second quarter, Miami’s role players – namely Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson – continued to lift the Heat as Jimmy Butler (14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and Bam Adebayo (16 points, 8 rebounds) carried their struggles over from Game 4. They simply don’t look comfortable after Joe Mazzulla tweaked the defensive strategy. All the strategy in the world wouldn’t mean a thing if the players didn’t play with energy, and the Celtics came out with a ridiculous amount of energy.
In addition to players who have struggled stepping up (Smart and Brown), Tatum and White kept their momentum going. Tatum’s feel for the game in the first half (especially the first quarter), was exceptional. He looked like a man among men, whipping the ball around like it was nothing to find open shooters. One of those shooters, Derrick White, is shooting incredible over the last 48 hours. With him being isolated against Jimmy Butler less, his effectiveness has skyrocketed.
Boston’s defense forced 10 Miami turnovers in the first half. Despite Miami’s role players keeping them alive and stopping the runs from being outrageous, an exceptional effort that led to a 17-point halftime lead.
Out of halftime, Boston snuffed out every potential Miami run whenever the Heat would cut it too low. Marcus Smart and Derrick White out-shot the entire Heat team from behind the three-point line. This was the positive shooting regression game, but just as was the case on Tuesday, it’s defense that opened up the floor for the Celtics. Getting easy opportunities in transition gave Boston a comfort level that carried them through the rest of the evening regardless of whatever Miami threw at them.
After the lead ballooned to 23 points in the second half, the closest the Heat got in non-garbage time minutes was 18 points.
First time in NBA history that a starting five group has 12 or more steals to go with 12 or more three-pointers. Miami’s bench came to play tonight, but it doesn’t really matter when the difference between starting lineups is such a massive gap.
Miami turned the ball over 16 times compared to nine turnovers for the Celtics. Conversely, the Celtics made 16 three-pointers compared to Miami’s nine. Smart and White (47 points, 10 three-pointers) outscored Miami’s entire starting lineup and made more threes than the entire Heat team.
The Boston Celtics pulled to just a 3-2 deficit to the Miami Heat after tonight’s win. They’ve seen multiple 3-2 deficits in the last two postseasons. One tough road win to force a Game 7 at home. They can’t think about how far they’ve come so far in this series. Bottom line, they’ve done 3-2 before, and they can do it again. Game 6 is Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.