Five minutes was all it took Friday night for the Boston Celtics to turn a nine-point third-quarter deficit into an eight-point lead over the Miami Heat. Those five minutes saved Boston’s season, as it capitalized on 20-3 run at the beginning of the second half to set the tone for a 121-108 Game 5 win.
Miami opened the third frame with a 13-foot jumper from Bam Adebayo to give it a 60-51 lead, which it maintained until the 10:25 mark. That’s when Jaylen Brown made a momentum-swinging steal-and-score in transition to start Boston’s run.
Brown scored six of his team’s 20 points during the stretch, which also included five points from Jayson Tatum, four points from Daniel Theis, three points from Marcus Smart, and two points from Kemba Walker. But the defense of that group is what changed the game, as they allowed the Heat to make just one field goal over a six-minute stretch.
By the 5:42 mark, the Celtics had turned their 60-51 deficit into a 71-63 lead, and they were just getting warmed up. Boston went ahead by as many as 19 points during the fourth quarter before cruising to a 13-point victory to bring it one win away from tying the series.
Jayson Tatum's aggressiveness was a game-changing aspect of Game 5, as he was able to drive through Miami's strong zone defense and draw contact time after time. The third-year wing scored a game-high 31 points, including 12 from the free-throw line where he tied his playoff career-high with 14 attempts.
Eight of those free-throw attempts came during a 17-point third frame, which was when Boston turned the game around with a 41-25 quarter advantage.
Not only was Tatum aggressive in scoring the ball; he also asserted himself on the glass where he pulled down 10 rebounds to give himself his ninth double-double of the postseason. Tatum also contributed strongly to the passing game, dishing out six assists for a well-rounded 43 minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Jayson Tatum (31 points) and Jaylen Brown (28 points) combined for nearly half of Boston's scoring with 59 points.
- Goran Dragic led Miami with 23 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
- Daniel Theis led the game in both rebounds (13) and blocks (three), while also scoring 15 points.
- Miami, which was the second-leading 3-point shooting team in the NBA, shot just 19.4 percent from deep.
- Bostom outscored Miami 56-48 inside the paint.
- The Celtics had more than twice as many offensive rebounds (13) as the Heat (six).
- Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker combined for 21 of Boston's 29 assists.
- Smart had more steals (four) than the entire Heat team (three).
- Both teams made 29 trips to the free-throw line. Boston made 25 of those shots while Miami made 23.
- The Celtics led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half.
Quote of the Night
I thought we played with great tenacity defensively, and I think our offense followed suit.